, which Hofmannsthal distilled from his Greek tragedy sources: a woman eager for somebody to avenge the death of her father waits long enough for her itinerant brother to come back home and do it.
It’s the preceding and the subsequent stuff that matters, action-wise.
And, in a production that took a gambit on a very specific setting and won.
It’s a rare theatrical perfect storm that should not be missed.
The roof’s sprung a leak and Guy urges Alice – plainly overwhelmed with everything (fear she’s a bad mother, sleep deprivation, general panic) – to deal with it. What follows is an intense extended hallucination in which roofers Cloudy (Ryder) and Fluff (Selina Martin, who helped create the characters with Ryder) enter the scene. The title of the play refers to the mammalian diving reflex, and the notion that if you blow in a baby’s face before putting it under water, it will hold its breath. All this plays out on director, choreographer and designer Monica Dottor’s beautiful set, made especially lovely with cloud constructions (Taylor Young provided assistance constructing these), which appear to hang from trees.
All the actors handle the dialogue and Dottor’s choreography – which often comes out of nowhere and heightens the hallucinatory effect – superbly.
From the opening scene with the maids in the grubby courtyard discussing Elektra’s fate while tidying up and stoking the fire, we are in the 19 century.He enters as a tipsy Victorian industrialist coming home late and is promptly dispatched to the land of the shadows in a trapdoor fight.Wilhelm Schwinghammer’s COC debut went extremely well: his confident and velvety bass is as voluminous as Goerke’s soprano—in this too the two singers were siblings.Together with brother Orest (bass Wilhelm Schwinghammer) as a Victorian gentleman returned from foreign travels, the trio has not a small hint of the Brontës about them, and of the Brontës’ obsessed and cursed characters.
There is a naturalness to Goerke’s delivery that is carried through until the final scenes.The music often abandons tonality, and yet the sweeping late-Romantic vocabulary of Stauss’s subsequent works is undeniably there.