Iph... fails to move me

IT'S not, on the face of it, an easy situation to find contemporary relevance in. The tragedy of a father instructed to sacrifice his beloved daughter to the gods so that his ships can have wind to sail off to war.

Aidan Semmens

Iph…

By Colin Teevan, from the Greek Iphigeneia in Aulis by Euripides

Colchester Mercury Theatre until June 14

IT'S not, on the face of it, an easy situation to find contemporary relevance in.

The tragedy of a father instructed to sacrifice his beloved daughter to the gods so that his ships can have wind to sail off to war.

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Not easy - but not quite impossible. This, though, doesn't hack it.

It's partly that Colin Teevan's rehash of an ancient Greek tragedy simply tries too hard to be “wiv it”.

Recasting the classic Greek chorus as a bunch of rebellious teenage girls is not in itself a bad idea - even if the closest they might have got to Greece is a seedy nightclub in Corfu.

But to have them self-consciously drop the H from 'elen and the T from Aphrodi'e is just grating and silly.

At the same time, if you're trying to appeal to popular culture in that way, why on earth write the rest of the play in cod-Elizabethan blank verse?

Dropping in the occasional F-word doesn't make pseudo-Shakespearean language modern. And if I ever hear again the curious verb “to throatcut” I shall know exactly where it's come from.

Apart from a few awkward moments, the Mercury Company blast through this literary dog's breakfast with their usual brio.

Ignatius Anthony is suitably anguished as the troubled dad Agamemnon. The chorus girls are fun.

Andrew Neil as the Old Man narrator who tops and tails proceedings is outstanding.

Nadia Morgan as Iphigeneia and Shuna Snow as her mother Clytemnestra both run the gamut from toe-curling to heart-rending.

Well, nearly. Because though tears are often mentioned, this silly play never came close to moving me to them.

And if it can't move you, then just what is Greek tragedy for?

AIDAN SEMMENS