Soulpepper’s Wedding at Aulis is wonderful but no longer usually compelling

Written through Sina Gilani, directed by using Alan Dilworth. Until April 14 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane. Soulpepper.Ca or 416-866-8666 Fifteen actors, surrounded by a small target audience in a ringed-off space, play out an ancient story of aggression, ethical confusion, revenge, and sacrifice. So near what’s going on, spectators are implicated in the ritual, compelled to witness and paint through for themselves whether the characters’ choices and moves are justified and just.

The piece is an adaptation of Iranian-Canadian poet/actor/playwright Sina Gilani of the final extant play by way of Euripides, which takes vicinity on the brink of the Trojan War. Gilani’s renaming of the space — historically known as Iphigenia at Aulis — underlines the experience of ritual: we’re gathered for one form of ceremony that turns disturbingly into something else. Gilani is a graduate of the Soulpepper Academy, and that is the first professional-level production of one in every one of his scripts. It’s admirable of Soulpepper Theatre to support its very own in this way. There is evidence also of director Alan Dilworth’s continued interest in new variations of the Greek classics following his lauded latest stagings of Idomeneus and Eurydice.

Audiences are involved too: the already prolonged manufacturing, with an audience ability restricted to sixty-four, is sold out. The situation is that the Greek fleet, led by Agamemnon (Stuart Hughes), is grounded on the port of Aulis, unable to continue to Troy because the goddess Artemis has calmed the wind. Before the play begins, Agamemnon has sent word to his wife Clytemnestra (Raquel Duffy) to bring their daughter Iphigenia (Alice Snaden) to Aulis, nominally to marry her off to the hero Achilles (Sébastien Heins) but clearly to sacrifice her to Artemis to boost the curse and pursue the battle.

This is a setup for a cascade of conventional gender performances (warlike men; traduced and doomed women), but Euripides’ fascinating preference is to have Agamemnon falter: the plot starts offevolved with him sending word to Clytemnestra to turn again — he’s selected his baby’s lifestyles over the imperative to combat — however, then he changes his thoughts again. His brother Menelaus (Frank Cox-O’Connell) has a prime reversal, too, and — in the play’s richest emotional evolution, Duffy commits with ardor — Clytemnestra movements from pleasure and love thru horror and resistance to a final vow of revenge. While her stage time is just too constrained to present the target audience pleasant get right of entry to her internal adventure, Snaden has a luminous presence as the childlike Iphigenia, alternately clutching a rag doll and her infant brother.

It is a beneficial story for our instances since it takes a polarized state of affairs and exposes its murkiness. If best these days’ global leaders had been as inclined to listen and trade, many of those characters are. Neither Gilani nor Dilworth actively foregrounds the cutting-edge resonances: an early point out inside the script of a “winged horse of iron” putting “tall twins aflame” seems a 9-11 reference, and Iphigenia’s eventual selection to martyr herself for Greece invites contrast to the conviction of suicide bombers. However, those are left at the level of feasible implication.

The layout — adorable — indicates somewhere remote in time and vicinity: a talking/making a song chorus of girls cover their bodies and heads with swathes of textured blue and purple fabric; the guys’ costumes (designed, at the side of the set, by using Michelle Tracey) consist of recognizable touches of historical Greek conflict put on even as stopping well short of a togas-and-sandals technique. Itai Erdal’s lighting is directed, however soft, so that the areas illuminated onstage appear shimmery at the edges, adding to the effect that we’re someplace a long way away and archetypal.

Three girls body the motion through speakme the phrases of Fate (Alana Bridgewater, Leah Cherniak, Sarah Wilson) and, at one factor, Erdal by some means illuminates their faces even though they’re status in darkness, a powerful otherworldly effect. The overall feeling is significant stateliness: it’s excellent manufacturing but now not continually an immediately compelling one. We’re an extended way from the unstable irreverence of different current neighborhood Greek updatings (Ho Ka Kei’s Iphigenia and the Furies, Jillian Keiley’s Stratford Bakkhai, and, even in its way, Stephen Fry’s indulgent but engaging Mythos collection remaining summer at Shaw).

This example has a capacity for explosiveness and absurdity, given the setup (a whole army caught in a single place, chomping on the bit for battle) and the number of reversals; however, opportunities for humor-surging aggression are mainly left offstage. While Gilani’s writing is fluid and mature, at factors, the manufacturing’s talkiness gets in the way of his compelling ideas. The amount of expertise and sources dedicated to this production are commendable, and it whets the urge for food for Gilani’s next ventures.

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