In the very good monologue that opens writer-director Peter Wing Healey's uneven tragedy, the Sun (Bridgette Trahan) argues the primacy of the Greek classics, plays that "rise above the evening news." Contridictorily, the play's contemporary resonance isn't dug out of the myth but spackled over it. Here, the vengeful House of Atreus is a tale of economics, not of blood guilt or cursed inheritance. King Thystes (Robert Long) is a social democrat ruling over ingrates: The communist peasants are restless and, the capitalist gentry is transferring allegiance to his cutthroat brother Atreus (Clint Steinhauser). In another dig to the ribs, Atreus' cabinet occasionally adopts a Crawford, Texas, twang and the actor cast as Thystes is slim, young, even-tempered and black. When Atreus tricks his brother into eating his own sons, instead of recalling their grandfather Tantalus' forays into cannibalism, we're meant to think of Karl Rove trying to stick mud to his rivals. Much of this distracts from, not enriches the myth, as does the direction, which jumps from burlesque to Expressionist to Shakespearean within a single scene, and casting that also favors eclecticism over ability. A monologue recited in a sheep's bray only distracts the audience from paying attention to its crucial content. Costume designer Karolyn Küsel's costumes, however, are fabulous, particularly in her frocks for Healey, who plays the two-timing Queen Aerope in larger-than-life drag. Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Nov. 30. (323) 960-7745.
Sundays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 26. Continues through Nov. 30, 2008