Agamemnon

Charles L. Mee’s adaptation of Aeschylus’ Greek tragedy (the first in this theater’s season, called “Three by Mee”) concentrates, like Homer’s The Odyssey, on the impulses behind cruelty and war. This is the story of the eponymous general (Troy Dunn) upon his return from a 10-year military campaign to his wife, Clytemnestra (Marie-Françoise Theodore), who seethes that her husband sacrificed their daughter to the gods for favorable sea winds. Frederique Michel stages the play as a choreographed recitation, with a Greek chorus of what appear to be decapitated heads, one of which is a figurehead bust, bolted to the stem of a boat. Michel juxtaposes the violence of the words with, for her, an uncharacteristically gentle staging — as sensuous as it is disciplined in movement and tone, so that the barbaric epic unfolds with a blend of eroticism, religiosity and moments of ironic humor. This is one of the most rarefied and beautiful productions around, aided by shifting, projected images of ancient stone in Charles A. Duncombe’s production design, and recordings of Arvo Pärt’s haunting choral backdrops. City Garage, 1340½ Fourth St. (west alley), Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun. (“pay what you can”), 5:30 p.m.; thru July 23. (310) 319-9939. See Stage feature next week.

—Steven Leigh Morris


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