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Off Plan with Gary Murphy by Ann Treacy
February 16, 2010, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Dublin

On Saturday night, we saw our friend Gary Murphy in a play at the Project Art CenterOff Plan. Off plan is an adaption of the Oresteia, a trilogy of plays about the fall of House of Atreus. I’m debating whether I try to give a Readers Digest version of the story. I guess I’ll tell what I need to – but leave the whole story at Wikipedia for those interested…

Agamemnon returns home to Clytemnestra after 10 years away at war. He is the victor, but to appease the gods he slaughtered his own daughter while out. So the wife is not so happy to see him. She’s so not happy she kills him. Cassandra is with him. You may recall Cassandra was the fortune teller whose curse was that no one believed or maybe understood her warnings until it was too late.

The play uses a lot of mixed media. The scene with Cassandra is very high tech. She seems to be very tied in with all of the technology as if she’s using the technology to speak. The stage was set where we could see half of the action as a play and half of the action we seen via video as it happened in a suburban house set on the stage. While she rules the technology we can see the filmed murder of Agamemnon.

Gary’s role is quite different from the others. He’s like the slick land developer. Most of the time he speaks, it’s in sound bites into a mini-video-camera. While the play is promoted as tying into modern Ireland and the recent fall of house of the developers, I think Gary’s character is the main tenet of that perspective. Gary is great with his dry lines – very funny at times. I thought his character was particularly effective.

The rest of the characters seem to have kept one leg in the days of Greek tragedy and a leg in a more modern time. The story goes on where Agamemnon’s son Orestes comes back and at the urging of the daughter who was left behind kills the mother and Gary’s character, the mother’s husband.

I also enjoyed the interaction between the sister (Electra) and brother (Orestes). The sister is brutal. She has been left behind to develop a real hate for the mother. The brother was sent away as is less invested in the mother’s demise. The difference in their accents is particularly effective, something that doesn’t work as well in the US. There’s a very funny but creepy scene between Orestes and his mother before she recognizes who he is.

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