Friday, January 28, 2011

Agamemnon by Aeschylus, City on a Hill* Productions, FF Long Fringe at the Blue Theatre, January 22, 25, 29, 30

Agamemnon, City on a Hill* Productions Austin

Agamemnon as produced by City on a Hill* Productions and directed by David J. Boss is a satisfyingly crunchy rendition of the first part of Aeschylus' Orestia. In this season of Academy Award nominations it might be useful to note that the trilogy won the annual competition at the Greater Dionysian Festival in Athens in 458 B.C.

In a chronological sense it's not "the first play in the Western canon," as stated in the program. Aeschylus wrote between seventy and ninety plays, of which only seven are extant (with three of those comprising the Orestia). The parts of the trilogy were among his last compositions, for he died in Sicily at the age of 70 only three years after presenting them.

The Orestia is a defining work in the Western dramatic canon. The fate of Agamemnon has constituted a cautionary tragedy reworked regularly since Aeschylus' time. Sophocles and Euripides further explored the myths of the fall of the house of Atreus, with the tales of rivalry, cannibalism, war, child sacrifice, the conquest of Troy, treachery, sexual infidelity, prophetic ecstacy, incest, religious conflict and madness. The story and its figures are deep dyed in Western literary tradition. It's great stuff.

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