With Greek theater, there will be blood – a lot of blood. This was the case at the Getty Villa for Sophocles’ “Elektra.” You should know going into this play that the house of Atreus has been cursed with tragedy for at least three generations going back to when Atreus and Thyestes killed their step brother for fear of him winning the throne. This, coupled with pissing off the gods a few too many times, sets off a chain reaction of tragedy and misfortune for the house of Atreus.

By the time we get to Sophocles’s play “Elektra,” the blood becomes thicker and so does the plot. Elektra’s mother Clytemnestra murders her father Agamemnon with her lover Aegisthus. Elektra, completely distraught with the loss of her father and the knowledge that her mother was the cause of his death, awaits the return of her only brother Orestes to help her get revenge.

The beautiful support of the architecture of the Getty Villa is the perfect stage setting for this play. Simply being in the environment in the outdoor theater watching this performance unfold is captivating and eerily transports me to Greece 400 B.C. Annie Purcell’s Elektra is frenetic and beautifully articulated. Her character’s sole purpose is to win justice for her father’s terrible death. The anguish she manifests physically and through her speeches is almost unbearable to watch. You can feel her pain and desperately want justice for her.

Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis as the Chorus Leader gives an amazing supportive performance. However, Pamela Reed’s interpretation of Clytemnestra, Elektra’s purposed mother, is the one I can’t stop thinking about. She commands her audience from the moment she first appears atop her balcony, cursing Elektra for continuing to mourn her father’s death and for not taking her side. It’s a complicated, but awesome experience.



Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades. For more information, visit getty.edu.