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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Puts On ‘Iphigenia 2.0’

Charles Mee's version of Euripides' Greek tragedy opens Friday

Updating fever has obviously hit UCSB big time. Starting Friday and through May 22, the UCSB Department of Theater and Dance will present Charles Mee’s Iphigenia 2.0 — a “raucous contemporary play which was inspired by Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis.”

Alexia Dox stars as Iphigenia and Sean Harrigan as her father, Agamemnon. UCSB faculty member Tom Whitaker is the director.

I should say at this point that while I am skeptical overall as to the wisdom of giving a wised-up, contemporary spin to classical dramas — Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet with Ethan Hawke being a notable exception — I very much enjoyed an earlier UCSB production of Mee’s, bobrauschenbergamerica, which also was directed by Whitaker.

So, we have to keep an open mind about this and allow for the possibility of meaningful action and pertinent insight. We are probably not looking at Springtime for Hitler.

How much of the gravitas of the original story will be available to contemporary audiences — whether, that is, they will understand that, as far as Euripides’s audiences were concerned, Agamemnon’s murder of his daughter to buy from the gods a favorable wind to take his ships to Troy was an historical fact — is a fair question. There are, however, themes — life vs. death, war vs. peace, love vs. hate, private conscience vs. public duty — that humans need to explore. If we no longer can look upon them with a direct and steady gaze, then perhaps Mee’s ironic, fragmented approach is the only way to go. Such reservations notwithstanding, there is good reason to suppose that, in performance, Iphigenia 2.0 will prove a valid and rewarding theatrical experience.

Iphigenia 2.0 shows at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, May 14-15, and May 18-22, and at 2 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, and May 22 in the Performing Arts Theatre. It plays without an intermission, and there is no late seating. It is not intended for children.

Tickets are $13 to $17, and can be purchased at the door.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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