Imagine you have a five-year-old child. Now imagine you give this child some old magazines, CDs, and a copy of the story of Phaedra and ask him to make a collage. What would you expect the final product to look like? If you are at all curious, Shalimars latest production, La Femme est Morte or Why I Should Not F%!# My Son, a modern adaptation of the Phaedra story, has the answer: an enormous, childish mess.
In Shalimars production, this first-family of Greek tragedy exists in a modern world where they are an enormous paparazzi draw. Phaedra is a self-absorbed diva, Hippolytus and Tiresius are boxers, and Theseus is a worshipped war-hero. The snitching nurse is represented by Neevee, a ruthless publicist, and the paparazzi acts as the chorus (quite literally, since they sing and dance). The dialogue is assembled from numerous celebrity interviews, novels, and magazines and nearly every scene has a pop song interlude (ranging from Take That's Back for Good to The Black Eyed Peas My Humps) to accompany it.
Being a genuine fan of all things pop-culture, I will say that I was initially entranced by the first four minutes of the show. The opening was hip and sexy, and I thought for sure I was in for something fresh and exciting. However, the moment the first line was uttered, I knew my initial assessment had been wrong. The acting was equivalent to something one might find on a middle-school stage (with the exception of Joe Curnuttes Hippolytus, which along with some of the choreography, is the main reason this isnt a one star production) and the script is so jarringly assembled that it reeks of the self-indulgence of a creator who could not observe her work objectively. The sexiness the cast is constantly trying to exude feels completely forced and contrived and the last 20 minutes drag on for what feels like hours. La Femme est Morte is ultimately nothing more than a failure to the MTV generation.
Fritzie reviewed the Edinburgh preview of the show in New York at 59e59