Hercules: In Search of a Hero

Abrons Arts Center Experimental Theater, Manhattan

A pleasant mix of classical and experimental theater combining live, traditional oration and song with a modern set, projected video and recorded audio

By Andrew Andrews

Hercules (Luke Couzens) encourages Admetos (Demetri Bonaros) to take Alcestis (Luisa Alarcón), who has returned from the dead in EGTNY’s production at Abrons Arts Center. Original photo by Selim Cayligil.

Perhaps it’s unfair to compare New York’s love of Shakespeare to the relative obscurity of classical Greek theatre here.

After thousands of years it’s obvious that the art and science of theatre would evolve, making the Bard’s words and devices stronger than those of Aeschylus or Sophocles.

In addition to the traditional revivals of Shakespeare’s repertoire, we regularly see attempts to modernize and otherwise experiment with his scripts, such as MAKBET in a shipping container and Arden/Everywhere addressing the modern refugee crisis.

Experiments with the great tragedies, however, are fewer and farther between.

Sure, there was HISSIFIT, which re-imagined Medusa and her Gorgon sisters in a punk rock band, and Ms. Estrada, which relocated Aristophanes’ classical comedy in time and place to a modern college campus.

But, as the saying goes, it’s been a while.

Fortunately, Eclipses Group Theater New York (EGTNY) has appeared to fill the void and return the epic stories of past millennia to our modern stages, with an exciting new twist on Euripides’ revered tale of a strong man and brave woman: the heroic Heracles (AKA Hercules amongst the Romans) and Aclestis, the wife who volunteered to die so that her husband, King Admetus of Pherae, could live.

Combining live, traditional oration and song with a modern set (including a “Bar Hades” with glowing signs and labeled bottles of liquor), projected video and recorded audio, Hercules: In Search of a Hero delivers a pleasant mix of classical and experimental theater.

Directed and conceived by Ioanna Katsarou and with the support of the Consulate of Greece and commercial sponsorship by an impressive array of Greek-owned businesses, the live performance features Luisa Alarcón, Demetri Bonaros, Luke Couzens, Helena Farhi and Alexandra Skendrou.

Andrew Andrews attended Hercules: In Search of a Hero at Abrons Arts Center Experimental Theater in Manhattan on Friday, February 1, 2019 @ 7:30pm to write this review.