Iphigenia 2.0
Signature Theatre Company

NYC Theatre Review

Drawn from a Greek tragedy by Euripdes, Iphigenia 2.0 sets out the provocative but unlikely premise that the nation’s army will not go to war unless the nation’s leader sacrifices his daughter.  The sacrifice would confirm his belief in the righteous cause of going to battle.  The parallel to our headlines is blunt, as is the entire production.  Set in one act, the play unfolds on a bare industrial stage.  The cast is in modern dress, with the soldiers in full desert gear (save for one gratuitous sequence where they strip to their skivvies for an incongruous rap dance routine).  In fact, too much of the play is incongruous.  The opening monologue is a meandering diatribe, setting forth the sources of political power, moral responsibility and the privilege of leadership.  Seth Numrich plays Achilles with aplomb, the leader caught in the intractable position of choosing between his daughter’s life and protecting his nation.  The shapely Kate Mulgrew plays his wife, who understandably loses her sanity when she discovers her husband’s deception of bringing their daughter to town under the premise of allowing her to marry a soldier.  The daughter and her two bridesmaids are screeching caricatures of bimbos. In an apparent nod to noh (Japanese knee plays at the edge of the main action), Angelo Niakas is allowed to wander about the stage as Greek Man.  His paintings and native language ravings never coalesce into coherency.  Charles Mee wrote the screenplay, directed for the stage by Tina Landau.

The play has been extended, and is playing to sold out audiences undoubtedly already convinced of its political relevancy.  The play seems far longer than its 90 minutes running time. Impressively, Time Warner has underwritten the production, thereby driving down ticket prices to the otherwise unthinkable $20.

Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment and technology scene for many years. He has written for Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and once upon a time won a New York State College Journalism Award.