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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Theater Review: The Persians by Aeschylus, The Shakespeare Theater, Washington, DC

This play is billed as the oldest Western play still in existence, but it might as well have been written last week. The story of arrogance, hubris, and the mighty brought low through an overly ambitious war . . . and it's really not about the Bush administration, but about the Persians, and some guy named Xerxes. Turns out Xerxes' father was king before him, named Darius, and Darius invaded Greece, so Xerxes did, too . . . really, that's what it's about.

Paul might have some more intelligent things to say about the play, from a scholarly point of view. But let me say that this was the best thing I've seen at the theater in awhile, timely and timeless at the same time. I've never really cared for staged Greek tragedy, as the unities and all that really make for little dramatic action. But this production was creative and dynamic, dividing the chorus into numerous actors and giving Darius' wife. Atossa, some stage time with Xerxes.

The audience was riveted, too. But I don't think that Laura Bush is going to be going to this play. I don't think that she would enjoy it.


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