A weird thing happens when Greek tragedies are updated: It all plays out like an episode of “Jerry Springer.” Maybe that’s not a bad thing—“Springer” has been on the air for thirteen years now, so clearly there’s an audience for this particular brand of flailing, vengeful melodrama. Playwright Luis Alfaro’s present-day Chicano spin on Sophocles’ “Electra” is somewhat more high-minded, this being the theater—and the Goodman, at that. While the script is nimble and clever and the production, directed by Henry Godinez, is sleekly executed, the story itself never quite supports the action at hand. It’s like a house built of sand—eventually, the whole thing collapses. The paradox here is that despite problems with the plot, the show is entertaining. Electricidad (Cecilia Suarez, a dull performance under all that feral posturing) enacts an extravagant mourning ritual for her dead father, whom she believes was murdered by her mother, Clemencia (Sandra Marquez, a canny mix of sass, hard-edged tackiness and dragon-lady red nails). “Shut up,” Clemencia sneers to her wailing daughter, who lies splayed out on the front lawn, chained to her father’s rotting corpse. Why does Electricidad suspect her mother? What’s up with this weird, crazy loyalty to her father, anyway? These questions are left unanswered and you can’t help but wish Alfaro strayed even further from the source material, or simply wrote an original play—his writing style, laced with Spanglish and gallows humor, is pretty intriguing. “He slid off the stretcher and into the hearse like a flan,” says Abuela, Electricidad’s grandma (Ivonne Coll), describing their thieving trip to the morgue. It is Coll’s droll performance as the seasoned, you-can’t-bullshit-a-bullshitter Abuela—and the detail with which she lights a joint—that is reason enough to see this show. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.