Modern production and multimedia effects create Electra-fying tragedy
I was thoroughly amazed and haunted while taking my seat to see Electra, the current production by the Texas State Department of Theatre and Dance. The marble-looking stage was dark. Pictures of broken objects and broken human beings hung on the walls. Images of torment and misery were flashing on a screen, showing the audience flashbacks to the background story. The windows of the house in the set were battered and broken, while Electra, played by Ashley Rountree, paced the stage with grief and disbelief.
Electra is about a dark, traumatic war within a family that includes murder, obsession, betrayal and revenge. The title character, Electra, is in a deep, depressive despair. Her father, Agamemnon (Richard Furin), was murdered. Her mother, Clytemnestra (Melissa Grogan), has no remorse. Electra is longing for her brother, Orestes (Brandon Mabry), to return home and help her put an end to her suffering by avenging Agamemnon’s murder.
Electra’s inner turmoil is exacerbated by her sister, Chrysothemis (Amanda Murphy), who loved their father but thinks it is impractical to kill the murderers. She wants her freedom and knows she will gain it if she refuses to participate in Electra’s vendetta.
“Sometimes being right is wrong!” Chrysothemis tells Electra. She knows that revenge is a fitting response to her father’s death; she just doesn’t want to be a part of it.
At one point, Electra says, “Our prayers are lost in dying screams.” She prays to the gods to mend her heart from grief. I felt like I was in Electra’s heart, being driven wild by the mere glance of the killers. Truly, this was a very mystical and mournful play.
All of the actors portray their characters quite well. I loved the integration of the screens projecting the memories of the past to help tell the full story. I got emotionally involved in all the characters and cannot wait to see these actors in upcoming plays.
Performances of Sophocles’ Electra, adapted by Frank Guinness and directed by Michael Costello, will start at 7:30 p.m. each night through Saturday, Oct. 9, on the main stage of the Texas State Theatre Center. The final performance will be Sunday, Oct. 10, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10, $7 for students. To reserve tickets, please contact the Texas State box office at 512.245.2204.