Electricidad | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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ELECTRICIDAD, Goodman Theatre. Luis Alfaro's Spanglish take on Sophocles' Electra has more to offer than most reimaginings of Greek tragedies. Unlike Charles Mee in his pat deconstructions of gender relationships, Alfaro places the tale in the specific context of contemporary Chicano gang life. In the process he offers startling insights into internecine hatreds among immigrant communities and some challenging commentary on the social problem of the vanishing father. Here Clytemnestra (called Clemencia) has killed her drug-dealing gang-lord husband as retribution for being sold to him as a sex slave at age 13--he stands for "the generations of undisciplined men who have wasted our lives." Youngest daughter Electricidad--who's chained herself to the corpse, rotting outside their desert home--screams imprecations at her mother, hammering at her "outsider" status: she wasn't born in America.

Not all the elements cohere in Henry Godinez's staging. Orestes doesn't have the visceral energy of his mother, grandmother, and sisters. But Charin Alvarez is hilarious as a born-again Ifigenia, who's turned from gang life to religion without losing her penchant for profanity. And the toxic dynamic between Cecilia Suarez's howling Electricidad and Sandra Marquez's cunning, wounded Clemencia is spellbinding. Providing electrifying visual accompaniment to Alfaro's intelligent update are Christopher Akerlind's lighting and Riccardo Hernandez's clever set--a huge Corona sign on the back wall references the dead king in the front yard.

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