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`IPHIGENIA' BRINGS TROJAN WAR TO L.A.

Byline: - Evan Henerson

Fate-crossed King Agamemnon broods on the beach at Aulis, an awful choice weighing him down. To secure favorable winds in order to sail to Troy, he has to sacrifice his treasured daughter, Iphigenia, to the gods. As anybody familiar with the House of Atrius well knows, this will not end happily.

The inevitability of Iph's fate isn't the problem in Euripides' ``Iphigenia in Aulis.'' Rather, what works against Colette Freedman's adaptation for Circus Theatricals is a too- modern sensibility -- including modern dress -- that throws the play into a half-timely/

half-universal netherland.

Certainly, a play dealing with the personal costs of war should strike a chord -- more so today than ever. And it's entirely human of Agamemnon (played by a gaunt Thomas Kopache) and his brother Menelaus (John Ross Clark) to flip-flop their positions on whether Iphigenia (Jade Sealey) should give her life for the good of Greece. Even the princess, when she arrives, initially begs for her life, showing herself to be more flesh and blood than martyr. Then she changes her mind.

The words Freedman has coming from everybody's mouths, however, seem relentlessly clunky and contemporary. The dialogue suits the present-day production trappings (including Kitty Rose's pop tent and combat fatigues) but seems to clash with the three-person female chorus (Donna Luisa Guinan, Rocky Bonifield and Lindsay Bellock) that provides sing-songy commentary.

The production benefits highly from Strawn Bovee's work as a relentless and dignified Clytemnestra. Hers would be a difficult plea for a husband or hero warrior (in this case, Jerry Goble's Achilles) to ignore. But ignore it they must if the Trojan War is going to proceed, as we all know it will, and if the House of Atrius is to collapse like a series of bloodsoaked dominos.

``Iphigenia'' is Circus Theatricals first production at the company's new studio theater at the Hayworth since relocating from the Odyssey.

IPHIGENIA AT AULIS - Two and one half stars

Where: Circus Theatricals Studio Theatre at the Hayworth, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.

When: 8 p.m. Friday and May 20.

Tickets: $20. (323) 960-1054. www.circustheatricals.com

In a nutshell: The personal cost of the Trojan War loses its poetry and potency through Colette Freedman's adaptation of the Euripides tragedy.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 13, 2006
Words:373
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