by Lynn on January 18, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the AKI Studio, 585 Dundas St. W., Toronto, Ont.

Written by Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho)

Directed by Jonathan Seinen

Set, costumes and props by Christine Urquhart

Lighting by Jareth Li

Live sound design by Heidi Chan

Cast: Augusto Bitter

Virgilia Griffith

Thomas Olajide

PJ Prudat

Woow! Just terrific. A prefect blending of play, performance, production and direction.

The Story. Boy those Greek folks knew from never ending revenge. When Agamemnon was going off to fight in the Trojan War to get Helen back the winds were against him. He was told to sacrifice his and his wife Clytemnestra’s daughter, Iphigenia to get the gods to calm the winds. He was ready to do it but then Iphigenia was whisked away it was assumed by the god Artemis to Taurus. Thinking Iphigenia was dead, Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon in revenge. To revenge his death, Orestes, son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, killed Clytemnestra. (are you getting this down—there will be a test administered by Stephen Fry). To escape the wrath of the gods Orestes is sent to Taurus to retrieve a statue that one of the gods wants. He arrives with his lover Pylades. There Orestes accidentally meets his sister Iphigenia, sort of proving that all this revenge killing was unnecessary because Iphigenia was alive. But never mind. The next challenge is to escape with his sister and the statue in tow. This is tricky because Iphigenia has a rather exalted position there—a priestess and revered. And there is a person called Chorus who notices Iphigenia’s behaviour with the two visitors to Taurus.

 The Production.  Director Jonathan Seinen has envisioned one humdinger of a production. He suggested that Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho) write the adaptation of the story. The language is irreverent and modern but you get that snowballing sense of rampant revenge and it goes on and on and on.

The play is smart, clear, wonderfully acted, very funny, beautifully designed, lit, and costumed. The whole sense of ancient Greece is economically and beautifully suggested by Christine Urquhart’s two panels of crumpled off-white paper giving the sense of old stone or marble. Several door-frames are up stage with a striking design of stripes on the floor emanating from the frames. Urquhart’s costumes are comfortable for Orestes (a playful Thomas Olajide) and Pylades (an impish Augusto Bitter), functional for Chorus (PJ Prudat who is watchful, coy and astute)  and absolutely beautiful and elegant for Iphigenia (the always watchable, compelling Virgilia Griffith). She wears a shimmering, form-fitted brown and gold affair with feathery bits that spread out when she twirls. Stunning. Iphigenia as played by Virgilia Griffith knows how to play the game and protect herself there and longs for the moments she can be herself and let loose privately. For all the sharp humour of the piece the Chorus lets us know the futility and perpetuation of revenge as she let’s us know the endlessness of it all. It’s quite a sobering scene.

Comment. What an absolutely bitingly intelligent, funny, perceptive, impish, irreverent play Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho) has written. His previous work Trace certainly showed a keen sense of theatre and imagination. He’s just built on that strength with Iphigenia And the Furies. I look forward to more from him.

Saga Collectif presents:

Opened: Jan. 10, 2019.

Closes: Jan. 20, 2019.

Running Time: 65 minutes.

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1 LiverLoather January 18, 2019 at 11:43 pm

It is FANTASTIC!! Convinced some of my students to see it last night!