(Please click on the title to see the full review.)
The Flea Theater's clever adaptation of the seven surviving plays of Sophocles (Oedipus, In Trachis, In Colonus, Philoktetes, Ajax, Elektra and Antigone) was a New York Times Critic's Pick when it ran last winter. Now it is back for an encore run until July 1. Although the running time is about 4 1/2 hours including breaks for dinner and dessert (both included in the ticket price), the time passes very quickly. Sean Graney's clever reworking of the plays is greatly enhanced by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar's able direction and Michael Wieser's terrific fight direction. Performances by the 30+ actors, all members of The Bats, the Flea's young resident company, are all enthusiasic and, in most cases, very good. The actors also chat up the audience before the play starts and during the two breaks. They even serve the food. Unlike the original works, where violence always takes place offstage, lots of blood is shed here. Don't let that keep you away. There are several passages that speak to current events without being heavy-handed about it. The simple but effective set by Julia Noulin-Merat resembles two sets of facing jury boxes. Loren Shaw's costumes, both period-appropriate and modern dress, are excellent. The dinner from Macao Trading Company (tonight was eggplant curry over jasmine rice with pork buns) and the dessert from Billy's Bakery (miniature cupcakes) were delicious. It all made for a very enjoyable evening. My compliments to The Flea for taking on such an ambitious project.