Earlier this week, I saw Part 4 of the Hypocrites’ All Our Tragic. This is the twelve hour long piece of all thirty-two Greek tragedies. Since I can’t sit still for twelve hours, I’ve been seeing it in three hour chunks. Sadly, due to prior commitments, I missed part three. Good news is that they are rebooting the show next summer. Spoilers ahead. But then again, I think you should expect that everyone dies.
I know I’ve said this before but the entire project is fantastic. The Hypocrites have undertaken a monumental task of combining these thirty-two plays in ways that are relevant, poignant, and emotional. Congrats to them. That being said, I think Part 4 was my least favorite. But I suppose that is inevitable when you see a play in chunks. Some parts are going to be better than others. Part 4 was a bit too chaotic for me. For instance, there was one part when the fire alarm was going off (in the play, not the theater) and various characters were just yelling at each other. It didn’t work for me. Maybe I was bothered by the chaos since these were the plays that I was least familiar with. Also, there seemed to be a bit more deus ex machina than I expected: characters returning from the grave, etc. And there was a weird bit in the forest including a Priestess Butchers who feeds people to the bats.
However, I did love that I learned about new plays. One of them Helen and Helen was truly bizarre. It’s a play about Menelaus and Helen trying to get home from the Trojan wars. They end up on an enchanted island where Menelaus meets a woman who claims is the real Helen. She claims that a witch had whisked her off before Paris kidnapped her. Menelaus has to choose which Helen to keep and which Helen to kill. When he has done the bloody deed, he’s still not sure who was who. And then Helen proceeds to carry around the other Helen’s head for the rest of the play. It’s actually hilarious, though immensely dark.
I went with a friend who had some interesting critiques at the end of the show. She said that the show faced the same problem that other modern remakes of Greek tragedies face: they bring in modern concepts like forgiveness and free will that the Greeks didn’t have the same thoughts about. She said these were ideas derived more from the Judeo-Christian philosophy. It’s an interesting question. Are these plays about the inevitability of fate? Or are they about how we humans are really good at mucking things up for ourselves due to overbearing pride, loyalty, and love? For me, I think that most of the characters are the authors of their own doom. They decide that they have to avenge themselves. It seems that few, with notable exceptions of Oedipus and Jocasta, are fated to do horrible things. But then again, maybe the fate aspect was toned down in this production. Or that’s what I see in my Judeo-Christian belief system. I love this play makes me question our point of view of the world.
The show closes on Sunday, I believe. So you have time to go see it. Or watch it next summer. It’s well worth the many hours. I know I’ll see part 3 this summer.