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Photograph: Michael BrosilowLaura T. Fisher and Nick Vidal in Iphigenia 2.0 at Next Theatre Company

Iphigenia 2.0 at Next Theatre Company | Theater review

Euripides gets a modern but largely empty update in Charles Mee’s 2007 remix.


Some classical texts are all the better with reinterpretation. This isn’t one of them. Iphigenia 2.0, conceived by Charles Mee in 2007, sets the tragic characters of Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis in what might be contemporary Iraq or Afghanistan. A unit of tough guys supports upper-brass Agamemnon (a properly somber Aaron Todd Douglas), who must sacrifice daughter Iphigenia (the appealing Rebecca Buller) to keep the peace. To lure her to the field, her father has arranged a wedding with Achilles (Nick Vidal), who’s awfully inert for a fierce warrior.

Merriment and lamentation ensue. Soldiers shout, chant and dance—athletic, didactic and near-violent, these are the best moments in the production—and Iphigenia’s bridesmaids enact a parody of shrieking upspeak. As stricken mother Clytemnestra, Laura T. Fisher brings an elemental humanity to the mash-up’s jerky transitions. But the wedding preparations, bathed in today’s cheesy vernacular, can’t balance the raw hurt of the soldiers’ physicality. That war is hell and often senseless, that women can be silly or brave or both, are known to most of us.

Video screens are used to little effect by director David Kersnar, as is the presence of a groaningly symbolic Arab observer, who casts a mournful eye on Western excesses, and club music that pounds without purpose. One exception: The soldiers break form for a hip-hop interlude with a narrative power Euripides himself might applaud.

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