Electra: An American Gothic

Reviewer's rating

Produced by Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock Theatre, Electra: An American Gothic, is a superb piece of Americana, adapted from Sophocles tragedy.

Orestes returns home to vengefully murder his mother, Clytemnestra, who killed her husband, Agamemnon. Electra has never forgiven her mother for her father’s murder and feels trapped; deeply unhappy and at the mercy of her mother’s lover, Aegisthus. Her mother’s murder is welcomed.

American Gothic in style and Jacobean revenge tragedy in plot, the arguably sheltered lives in this performance are fuelled by retribution. They are sheltered in the sense that Electra and her sister, Chrysothemis, are guarded by Aegisthus and their fearful mother, only really escaping in the books Clytemnestra reads. However, not sheltered in their involvement of a brutal murder at a young age.

Electra laments her everlasting hope of Orestes’ return, and Chrysothemis wishes they could forget the past. Watch out for a chilling scene when Electra recognises her brother after waiting for him as long as she can remember. Clytemnestra’s touching and seemingly genuine account of motherhood is undermined by her desire to have her sons head.

The siblings sit by their mother’s corpse – the moment Electra had dreamed of and her brother had been raised for. This is fantastically anticlimactic in the sense that the revenge cycle is seemingly endless and futile.

This production is flawlessly casted, especially the wonderful Cora who has visions of Clytemnestra’s imminent death. So is the preacher who believes that “every time someone wrongs you, you return it three times”. Much recommended for a passionate portrayal of revenge’s destruction.