This past Monday, I saw Part 2 of Hypocrites’ All Our Tragic. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the group took all 32 Greek tragedies and combined them into one twelve-hour play. Or you can see it in 3 hour chunks. Part 2 lived up to my expectations after seeing Part 1. The plays featured were Oedipus, Antigone, Ion, and the Foxes. I’ve read the first two so I was keen to see how they would play out. The latter two were new to me. Ion was another play about a tragic hero figure. The Foxes were about a political movement threatening ruling power in Thebes, which was fascinating and so distinct from the other plays.
Part 2 was framed by the following question posed by one of the characters: “Would you rather be friendly, faithful, or feared?” It was interesting to see how various characters landed on that spectrum. Antigone definitely chose faithful; Creon tried friendly, and the rest were definitely in the feared category. One unexpected thing was how much I disliked Antigone. I’m all for family but her faith in family bordered on self-righteous/crazy. I couldn’t relate to her at all.
After six hours of play, It was nice to see how they created the characters. I was surprised that they chose to make Oedipus into a bit of a dullard. He’s not quite as dumb as Heracles but he’s definitely portrayed as a pretty face with not a lot going on. Not exactly what I had imagined in Oedipus. But it comes from the need to make the many characters in the entire twelve-hour play distinct from one another. Sure, there are going to be some repeat of themes but it would lose its punch if the characters were alike. So the Oedipus choice was an important one.
I went with a friend of mine who told me that I forgotten a key aspect of the show: it’s funny. While many terrible things happen on stage, there is humor to the show. It’s not doom and gloom all the time. And that makes it work. You need the levity or the plays will be a slog. And sometimes gory moments can be hysterical. For instance, when Heracles cuts off his daughter’s arm in a magically induced rage, she later comments, “Well, I get to be what I always wanted!” Her mother asks, “What?” She responds, “I always wanted to be a lefty.” Horrible but fantastic.
And it’s kinda neat to see the inside jokes within the play. Actors reappear as other characters and they make some slight, but hilarious, allusions to their former roles. Nothing overt. Anyway, it’s not something you get to see in every play. But I suppose, it takes at least six hours of a play to have that happen.
I’m so terribly heartbroken that I won’t get to see Part 3. I am booked both nights, so there’s nothing I can do. But I will see Part 4.
Seriously, see the twelve-hour version if you can. Or catch parts 2,3, and 4 in the upcoming weeks.