A newly fatherless Electra (Sierra Marcks) stands spotlit and centerstage, dressed to the nines in punk-grunge garb, asking Zeus for help: “Are you there, Zeus?” she says, “It’s me, Electra.” Thus this tragicomedic version of the Greek story of Electra, set in the mid-90’s era of Carmen Electra, written and directed by Aliza Shane, begins.
Zeus is dead. At least, for Electra’s intents and purposes. Not once does his lightning bolt shuffle off anyone’s mortal coil in Electra’s favor, even though she continuously requests his help in her plot to avenge the murder of her father, Agamemnon. Her very own mother Clytemnestra (Cas Marino) had conspired with soon-to-be second husband Aegisthus (James David Larson) to kill Agamemnon. Instead of attaining Zeus’s help in seeking justice, Electra is met with taunting unsolicited advice courtesy of her wonderfully sassy Greek chorus (Felicia Blum, Carley Colbert, Kate Dickinson, Ashley Lovell), four women who at once mock her and cheer for her, like any best frenemies would.
Greek stories are traditionally retold, updated and changed, so the premise of redoing the story of Electra isn’t new. But this version of Electra seeks to comment on Electra’s traditionally powerless role in the story, as she waits for her long lost brother Orestes (Timothy Mele) and his friend Pylades (David Michael Brown) to come and help her do her matricidal dirty work. This Electra eventually teams up with her sister Chrysothemis (Kerri Ford) and learns assert her own power in a horribly dysfunctional domestic situation, in a Zeus-less universe, just like any awkward tween female protagonist in a Judy Blume coming-of-age novel (i.e. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret) might.
If you liked Clueless as an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, it’s likely you’ll love On The Fritz’s version of Electra, rife with angst and rocking with grunge era songs. The soundtrack is impeccably chosen and perfectly timed (Green Day’s “Longview” comes in just as the seduction segment of the vengeance plan begins, and many of us remember what that song was about.) The morning after I saw Are You There, Zeus? It’s Me, Electra., I woke up with so much Pearl Jam, Nirvana, the Offspring, and No Doubt in my head, I nearly skipped my shower, put on an old flannel shirt and went back to middle school.
This Electra’s a tiny bit Nietzsche, a little bit Judy Blume. It’s a little bit Greek, and a lot rock & roll. In the end, Are You There, Zeus? It’s Me, Electra. smells like teen spirit in the best way—delightfully overboard and self-assured. The last performance is June 27. Catch Electra while you still can.
~~~ARE YOU THERE, ZEUS? IT’S ME, ELECTRA. Presented by On The Fritz Productions benefiting The Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation A New Tragicomedy Written and Directed by Aliza Shane Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission Venue: The Bleecker Street Theatre, Theatres at 45 Bleecker (upstairs), 45 Bleecker Street Performance dates: Sun 6/6 @ 9:30pm Tues 6/8 @ 4:30pm Sun 6/13 @ 9:30pm Wed 6/16 @ 10:30pm Sun 6/20 @ 9:30pm Sun 6/27 @ 9:30pm Purchase tickets here.