The GreeksBy Karen Comer
Posted at October 23, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT
The Greeks: A medley of Aeschylus and Euripedes' greatest hits
It takes a True Trek Fan to travel to LA just to see her favorite actor in a small play in a 99 seat theater. That's just what I did this October in Los Angeles to see Marc Alaimo in "The Greeks" - I was even awakened by the recent earthquake. In 'The Greeks', Marc plays Agamemnon, king or general of the Greek army, I could never discern which. He is forced by a mutinous army to conduct a human sacrifice of his beloved daughter Iphigenia (if- i-jen-eye-ah) to assure a good wind for his sea voyage to wage war on Troy. His wife Clytemnestra is none to pleased to have one of her hard borne children sacrificed this way, but she is silenced, and a good wind ensues for the trip to Turkey. One needs a good pedigree chart to sort through all the family relationships and one is provided in the program.
Ten years of war subdue the Trojans and their women, including queen Hecuba (fabulously portrayed by Francis Bay). Cassandra ( Hecuba's daughter,and a priestess to Apollo, Ginta Rae), and the rest of the Trojan women are carted off to slavery. Dear sweet, wifely Clytemnestra has plans for her returning hubby and his pretty blonde mistress Cassandra. As hubby and his blonde plaything are cavorting naked in a tub, Clytemnestra throws a net over them both and axes them to death in revenge for Iphegenia's death.
According to the program this band of players has had many illnesses and replacements in the cast, and it showed. Acting went from the sublime (Andromache, Beth Hogan, Hecuba, Francis Bay) to the amateur. I could never quite believe Jeanie Hackett as bloody axe wielding Clytemnestra with her Medean revenge. She looked like she should be on the cheerleading squad at UCLA. She was much too young and wholesome looking for the part. Marc's performance was technically flawless, but I sensed he was holding back out of chivalry for the more amateur members of the cast. The role was large but unfortunately overshadowed by the female characters. The hardest work was done by half a dozen young women in various roles, (captured Trojan women, victorious Greek women, Greek chorous). They were consistently wonderful with special mention to Daphne Nayar as Thetis the sea nymph.
The main trouble I had with it was that the performers were just too close for my comfort. I suppose I am old fashioned, but I cannot suspend my disbelief and get into the story when I can clearly see that queen Hecuba's hair ornaments are knitting needles! I was so close that in the final scene I could see the blue of Marc's eyes.
In the lobby just prior to being seated. I looked up and who did I spot just two feet from me but Casey Biggs (Damar)! He had a distracted "please don't bother me"look on his face so I didn't bug him. I sat behind him during the performance and he was very focused on it. Unfortunately those two snuck out the back as I had been warned they would, so I never got to meet anyobody :-(
This cast certainly believed in realist theater. In one gratuitous bath towel scene Iphigenia spins around, assuring us the Greek ladies of the period wore no undergarments. In another Helen of Troy (launched a thousand ships,remember?) bares her bosoms to estranged hubby Menelaus. She doesn't get her costume back together in time before spinning about and flashing the audience. Honestly, I really saw no point in either of these details.
Two additional points. Marc has a bathtub death scene at the end and I watched him closely. His eyes remained open and staring for several minutes. He never blinked once! I would also like to personally thank him for a memorable curtain call. He took his curtain call in a very brief, blue cotton, terry cloth bathrobe. Maybe someone pulled a prank, and replaced the real one with this one and he had no choice :-)
Performances of 'The Greeks #1: The Cursed', featuring Marc Alaimo, are currently being held on Wednesdays and Fridays at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. The play is expected to run through the 14th of November. Reservations are still being accepted, you can reach the Odyssey Theatre at (310) 477-2055. For more information, please visit All Alaimo All The Time.
Karen Comer is a regular contributor to the Trek Nation