Michi Barall riffs on a Greek myth-with snacks for the audience!
Tue Apr 6 2010
TAKE A BOW Greenspan, center, is a goddess on the hunt.
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Poor Iphigenia. She’s still not over the post-traumatic stress of her father’s attempt to sacrifice her...and it’s been, like, 20 years! Now an indentured servant to Artemis, her goddess savior, Iph (Ikeda) is 34 and wants more out of life than a thankless job as a virgin priestess who specializes in sacrifice. She gets a shot at that in Ma-Yi Theater Company’s Rescue Me (tastily subtitled a postmodern classic with snacks). Inspired by Eurpides’ Iphigenia in Tauris, this astute mlange—a splendid collaboration between debut playwright Michi Barall and veteran director Loy Arcenas—coalesces elements of song, dance and video into an inventive show that’s part eccentric contemporary deconstruction, part scholarly symposium and part empowerment tale.
The appearance of Iph’s long-lost brother, Orestes (Julian Barnett), rocks her world; he’s seeking redemption after slaying their mother, who killed their father. But Orestes is to be the latest Greek sacrifice. The siblings chance an escape, but barriers abound, notably that drag Artemis (played by Greenspan, though not in drag). Greenspan’s animated turn is a highlight, but the whole eight-person ensemble nimbly balances focused playfulness with ironic detachment.
Barall (whose husband, Charles Mee, spun his own contemporary House of Atreus tale with Iphigenia 2.0) is an actor, playwright and Ph.D. candidate—and all three dramaturgical influences are evident. Artemis and Iph battle for control of the play they acknowledge they’re in, and during a snack break, a scholar answers questions from audience members while munchies are distributed. At times, the breezy antics threaten to veer out of control, but with Barall and Arcenas steering, you can be sure any turbulence is minor.
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