Wind in their sails

Iphigeneia at Aulis

By Euripides
Directed by Amy Bennett and James Ford
The Hyperbolic Players
Kraine Theater
Non-union production (closed)
Review by John Attanas

When a production's running time is over 90 minutes, but it feels as if barely an hour has gone by, something is going right. Such is the case for Iphigeneia at Aulis, by Euripides, presented by the Hyperbolic Players.

Iphigeneia at Aulis is set in the port city of Aulis just prior to the start of the Trojan War. Helen has been taken by Paris to Troy, and as a result "all the Greeks sprang to arms." However, just as they are about to sail to Troy, the wind ceases, and their ships are unable to head out to sea. A priest informs Agammemnon, the commander-in-chief, that in order for the wind to return he must sacrifice his oldest daughter, Iphigeneia, to the Gods. Eager to get the fleet moving, he writes his wife Klytemnestra and tells her to bring Iphigeneia to Aulis, for he has arranged to marry the girl to Achilles. After he sends this false letter, he is overcome with guilt. He then sends an old man to Klytemnestra with another letter telling her not to come. But the message is intercepted by Menelaus, Agammemnon's brother, and Helen's furious husband. So Klytemnestra brings Iphigeneia to Aulis; and Agamemmnon is forced to choose between his daughter and his desire to lead his near-mutinous troops to war.

Iphigeneia at Aulis is one of the great plays of the ancient Greek theatre. This production by the Hyperbolic Players, while far from perfect, was game and inspired. The pace of the piece never lagged. The only downside to the direction was in terms of concept. While most of the production was fairly straightforward, Achilles (Christopher Winfield) was played as a comic character; and this interpretation took something away from the forceful whole.

Most of the performances were fairly good. Notable was Alexandra Gray, who was very good as Klytemnestra; and Marta Espitia, who handled the roles of the Old Man and the Attendant quite well. Heather Rogers held her own as Iphigeneia, and Anne Foldeak, Lauren Barrett Porter, Meghan Snowden, Heidi Hansen-Young, and Emily Stokes were all in sync as the Chorus.

The costumes, by Alexandra Gray, were an interesting but uneven grouping.

While Klytemnestra, Agammenon (Chris Libenson), Menelaus (Christopher Ekstein), and Achilles all wore clothes reminiscent of ancient Greece, the costumes worn by Iphigeneia and the Chorus were a more mix-and-match affair. The lighting design (uncredited) was simple yet well-done. Extremely effective was a long fade toward the end of the piece that created an appropriate mood of impending doom.

lphigeneia at Aulis is a very ambitious piece for any company to take on. Credit should be given to the Hyperbolic Players for daring the Fates. (Also featuring Tia Miller.)

Box Score:
Writing 2
Set 1
Acting 1
Costumes 1
Directing 1
Lighting/Sound 1
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Copyright 1997 John Attanas