Electra (Sierra Marcks) with her queen mother (Cas Marino) and her king/step-father (James David Larson) in Are You There Zeus? It's Me Electra.
BOTTOM LINE: A fun, silly comedy about teen angst, girl power, and the Greek myth of Electra.
Making a comedy out of the teen angst that invariably lurks within the myth of Electra is brilliant. In Are You There Zeus? It's Me Electra, writer and director Aliza Shane turns the vengeful princess who namesaked her own psychological complex into an anti-social, Hot-Topic-ed, emo teenage girl with mood swings, body image issues, and an obnoxious but perfect blonde sister. Oh, and her Greek chorus doesn't even like her that much.
Continuing the theme of reinvention, Are You There Zeus is festooned by a vibrant array of costumes from designer David Moyers. Whenever a character entered, I was unable to take my eyes off each new and exciting piece. Everything from the combination of toga-cut t-shirts with cargo shorts to metallic color-blocking for the royal family came together to create a coherent, thoughtful design with an immaculate, design-on-a-dime-style. Every detail is considered, and a color palette is decidedly implemented across the cast. It pays off. It's the best collection of costumes I've seen in a while at an off-off-Broadway production.
Also noteworthy is the use of sound. This production is filled with great music like old MTV series from back in the day. And within those recognizable, fun chords the director found opportunities for the Greek Chorus and other characters to move. There is also a perfect and hilarious use of one song as a motif for the "terrible" sister whenever she enters (or threatens to enter).
Clytemnestra is played by Cas Marino in drag with vocal inflections reminiscent of Faye Dunnaway doing Joan Crawford. It's the piece de resistance of the show.
As a whole, Are You There Zeus? It's Me Electra is a fun, zany spoof of the ancient Greek story and of Greek drama in general. The characters and situations play like a teen movie from 1994, with just a touch of camp and a dash of drag. It's all in good fun, and between the music, the laughs, and the matricide, that's what an audience can expect from this production.
Are You There Zeus? It's Me Electra is produced by On The Fritz Productions, who won last year's Planet Connections Theatre Festivity Award for Outstanding Overall Production of a Revival/ Adaptation for The Imaginary Invalid: By Prescription Only. It was also written and directed by Aliza Shane.
(Are You There Zeus? It's Me Electra is part of the Planet Connections Festivity and plays at the Bleecker Street Theatre, 45 Bleecker Street. Remaining performances are June 13th at 9:30pm, June 16th at 10:30pm, June 20th at 9:30pm, and June 27th at 9:30pm. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com.)