Waiting in the lobby of the Artscape Youngplace Theatre on charming wooden block benches, under the soft fluorescent lighting could hardly have prepared me for the onslaught of emotion that would be brought on by being witness to Stichomythia Theatre‘s production of Elektra at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
More an act of magic than a play, the only criticism I could make is that I wish there was more it it. It was a privilege to be present for what felt like an insight into something very real and intensely human. Raw emotion made every moment of this piece feel vivid and alive and I don’t think that I stopped crying from the first word to the standing ovation at the end.
A retelling of the classic Greek tale of Elektra, the action takes place as Elektra awaits the return of her brother. She wishes to take revenge on her murderous mother, Clytemnestra and her lover who killed her father, the king Agamemnon.
Done in the style of theatre in the round, you sit with your feet on the stage, sometimes nearly face to face with the actors, seeing the sweat on their faces, and lines of tears running down their cheeks.
Theatre is a tricky art form and it is sometimes difficult to get lost in the action. I was pleasantly surprised to be sucked into their world, as violent and horrible as it was. The themes explored are dark and grotesque but the skill of the actors brought a tenderness and vulnerability into these dark places.
The story of Elektra paints a complex moral picture. There are no heroes and no villains. All of the characters evoke pity, show their flaws, and in the end everyone is shown to have within them both darkness and light.
The use of the chorus, taken from traditional elements of Greek theatre, actually made me understand the function of a chorus for the first time. They seemed like one unit, and their lines felt like a voice-over, a glimpse into some kind of shared mind that gave insight into the characters secret fears and longings.
The emotion and the relationships felt real. Every beat seemed purposeful and full of meaning. The use of gesture and song lent a kind of symbolic power that was evocative of a ritual and that made me feel like the Gods that they were calling out to, could really be listening.
- Elektra plays at Artscape Youngplace . (180 Shaw St.)
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warning: Nudity.
- Wednesday June 29th, 09:00 pm
- Thursday June 30th, 09:00 pm
- Friday July 1st, 09:00 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 09:00 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 09:00 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 09:00 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 09:00 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 09:00 pm
- Friday July 8th, 09:00 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 09:00 pm
Photo of Alice Lundy and Erik Helle, Photo provided by the company