Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Murders: Agamemnon & Electra"

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entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"The Murders: Agamemnon & Electra"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Providence College's current production is the Greek tragedies, "Agamemnon" by Aeschylus and "Electra" by Sophocles. Titled the Murderers, this show is griping, intense drama from start to finish with expert direction by John Garrity, magnificent lighting by Deb Sullivan and mood enhancing music of contemporary composers designed by Mary Casale. The sparse set by Jeremy Woodward with a running water fountain( which turns to blood at shows end), makes you focus on the outstanding acting capabilities of these 12 college students. They all give bravura performances in their roles, making this a must see show for those of you who enjoy dynamic acting.

The storyline is about Agamemnon, King of Mycenae who sacrifices his daughter, Iphigenia so he can win the Trojan war. This incurs the wrath of his wife, Clytemnestra who kills him upon his return home 10 years later. She is aided by her lover, Aegisthus in this evil deed. 7 years later, Electra, Agamemnon's daughter seeks revenge on her mother and lover for her father's assassination. Since women could not accomplish such feats of heroism in those days, she waits for the return of her brother, Orestes to carry the deed out. The Greek themes of sin, retribution and redemption are shown throughout the show with the ending, man makes the choice to do evil or not, so choose wisely.

Daniel Janeiro and Kerry McCormack play Agamemnon and Clytemnestra with great and powerful stage presence. Their murderous acts are enthralling especially when she kill him with a net and pours blood over him and his mistress. Kerry appears in all three acts and does a great job as the wrong wife and mother. She realizes she must pay for her sins and her death scene while wrapped in a white sheet covered with blood is another chilling moment. The doomed lover of Agamemnon, Cassandra is played wonderfully by Lisa D'Alessandro who is from Texas. She captures the madness of a woman who is taken forcibly from Troy to a new land. Lisa hurls herself from place to place on the stage with appropriate musical background and blue lighting. (I loved the red light for the murders and the purple lighting is hardly ever used in a show but it makes a powerful lighting effect in this one. The green light to focus on an evil intention of the character is outstanding, too.) She forsees her death and warns of impending doom for her captor, too. Rich Porcelli plays the evil, Aegisthus who becomes the new king. He plays this smarmy role well and delivers a strong performance as the cad. His death scene is dynamic with blood spurting everywhere when his throat is slit. Another stunning moment in this show.

Another powerhouse performer is Betsey Jensen as Electra. She commands the stage beautifully with strong line delivery. She plays the role like a whirling dervish, insulting people and trying to get them to do her bidding. Her desolation at her father's death and her trying to avenge it, keeps her in this despairing state for seven long years. Betsey also displays the joy at her brother's return and the triumph of their victory after her mother's death turns hollow with both of them descending into madness. Her brother, Oretes is played by Litchfield, Connecticut native, Peter Waugh who matches her strength in the murder of his mother and her lover. He delivers the goods in this scenes with his strong acting talent. Another outstanding part of the play is accomplished by the four actresses who portray the Greek chorus. Not only do these girls have enormous amounts of dialogue to learn but they also sign their performances, too. (Mary Ellen Breen taught these young girls the sign language and they all do it in unison!) These four girls,Katie and Laura Cheely, Elizabeth Larsen-Silva and Dana Santomenna, are in character throughout the whole show and desire alot of praise for a job very well done. (Laura also plays the doomed Iphigenia in the prologue) The two remaining talented cast members are Halleluyah Walcott who narrates the prologue and plays Orestes' friend Plyades in the second act and Julie Abdelahad who plays Electra and Orestes' sister who obediently listens to her mother and tries to get Electra to be a good daughter, too.

So for Greek Tragedies performed they way they should, be sure to catch "The Murderers" at Providence College's Blackfriars Theatre. You definitely won't be disappointed.

"The Murders: Agamemnon & Electra" (10 - 13 April)
Providence College, Eaton Street,PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 865-2218

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide