Entertainment Theater

‘Helen.’ Evaluate: A Stressed Heroine Uninterested in Abiding by Gender Roles

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The play is named “Helen.,” as in Helen of Troy, however her twin sister, Klaitemestra, is the one who steals the present.

You keep in mind Klaitemestra, albeit perhaps by a distinct spelling: the grief-enraged mom of Iphigenia, who’s sacrificed to the gods by her father, Agamemnon — a betrayal that Klaitemestra avenges by murdering him upon his return from the Trojan Conflict.

So dramatic, isn’t it? Not just like the humdrum contemporary-classical domesticity that Helen, Klaitemestra and their older sister, Timandra, inhabit at first of Caitlin George’s “Helen.,” a brand new twist on the traditional story within the downstairs theater at La MaMa, in Manhattan’s East Village.

But for a very long time, the bored and stressed Helen (Lanxing Fu) is the one one who has an issue with their existence. Timandra (Melissa Coleman-Reed) is placidly comfortable to have a husband who brings her espresso within the morning and places socks on her ft when she will get chilly, whereas Klaitemestra (Grace Bernardo) is so sizzling for Agamemnon (Jonathan Taikina Taylor) that she will barely comprise herself.

“That man is melt-in-your-mouth gods-be-damned-licious,” she says. “I really like each little speck of him.”

The arc of their coupledom — sexual pyrotechnics, cooling affection, grisly finish — is the clearest, most affecting component of Violeta Picayo’s incohesive manufacturing for the SuperGeographics, introduced by La MaMa in affiliation with En Garde Arts.

That’s unlucky information for Helen but additionally for the viewers, as a result of that is her story — a comic book counter to the legend that she was kidnapped from her husband, Menelaus (Jackie Rivera), by the good-looking Paris (Taylor), whereupon males waged the Trojan Conflict over her. In “Helen.,” the catalyst for her fleeing is her personal inchoate craving.

“I wish to go on an journey,” she tells her sisters. “I can’t keep right here. I can’t.”

Spurred on by Eris (Constance Strickland), the god of discord and the present’s gold-clad narrator, Helen leaves Menelaus and their daughter, meets Paris and takes up with him. (Costumes are by James Schuette.) However the brothers Menelaus and Agamemnon can’t grasp that her absence from house and household is voluntary, the way in which it may be for a person.

“One time proper after our daughter was born,” Helen says, “Menelaus disappeared for eight months. By no means mentioned something. Though, to be truthful, he did go away a notice. ‘Gone out, comma, for glory. Kiss, kiss.’ I had no thought the place he was. Then with out warning he simply rocked up in the future and requested what was for dinner.”

The battle right here is between a lady’s self-determination and a person’s entitled possessiveness — a world-shaping dynamic rooted in conventional gender roles. This staging mutes that important resonance, although, with a clownish Menelaus who must however by no means does evoke masculinity. If Menelaus isn’t tethered to some form of actuality, neither is Helen’s stifling marriage. That undermines the urgency of her quest for a satisfying life.

“Helen.,” whose heightened tone generally remembers the performs of Sarah Ruhl and Charles Mee, is finally overcrowded, and the manufacturing largely lacks the ache that George has encoded within the comedy.

However it does have that bleakly disillusioned Klaitemestra — and her elegantly choreographed, marriage-ending homicide scene.

Helen.
By means of Oct. 29 at La MaMa, Manhattan; lamama.org. Working time: 1 hour half-hour.