When writer, director and performer Elizabeth Scales takes to the stage in “Tragedy!”, toga-glad and statuesque as she parades about, the tone is set for her attempt to save the modern world from self-destruction.
The, in-effect hour-long monologue begins with Sophocle’s “Antigone” recognition of the wonders of man and the need to honour the laws of the land and justice of the gods. She is the Godess Artemis, daughter of Zeus, sent down to the summonsed audience member mortals of Brisbathenia. Clearly, the gods are angry at our affluence, given her shrill chastise about the obsolescence of gods in the modern, first world. Or perhaps this is just her dissatisfaction at having to act as messenger, rather than attend the important meeting going on to restructure the gods.
Content-wise the work raises many valid considerations about the continued existence of humanity into the next millennium and modern day mortal consideration of fate, as evidenced by memes that claim ‘your future is as yet unwritten’, which are clearly ignorant of the reality of predestination at the hands of the gods, she points out. And as Artemis laments the irrelevance of gods in a climate in which OMGs are thrown about far too easily, there are many funny moments. Of note, particularly are sections which see her interacting with projected images of her slaves, whose disobedience in not feeding her, brings new meaning to the phrase ‘grapes of wrath. But some overly-lengthy pauses and repetition of lines beyond for effect, indicate that some more judicious editing could have been beneficial And ironically, given that the she comments on how the modern day mortal doesn’t like a shouter, there is little light and shade in delivery of early dialogue.
Conceptually this is an interesting piece, but it takes some time to signal its destination about it being time for Godly changes. It gets there eventually, but it is care of a random Dolly Parton number and bit-too-long Tina Turner clip dance along (and no Bee Gees number is sight.) To sustain the energy of an over-hour-long one woman show, is no easy task and unfortunately, in this regard, “Tragedy” ebbs and flows through its sometimes strange sequence of events. With a clearer focus and snappier pacing, its intent could be more successful realised, because there is indeed validity in its commentary and cautions of pop culture saturation, narcissism and vanity.
This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the performance on May 8.