Ismene | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Ismene 

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ISMENE, Dream Theatre Company, at Journeymen Theater Company. Jeremy Menekseoglu's new play has some elements in common with his Sister 121, performed last summer: women who are both victims and victimizers are sequestered in a safe house while havoc reigns outside their doors. But this time the women are refugees not from a bloody revolution but from the predations of the gods themselves.

The setting is a school for "unruly" girls run by Procne and Philomena, the two sisters abused by Tereus (he cut out the tongue of Philomena after raping her, and Procne responded by cooking his infant son in a stew and serving it to him). The residents include Iphigenia, the daughter sacrificed by Agamemnon, and an endearingly pissed-off goth tomboy (Tory Leigh) who claims to be the daughter of a Fury. The title character, of course, is the sole survivor of the cursed house of Oedipus, but this little sister isn't going to do what her big sister done. Looking at Antigone's self-sacrifice honoring the gods, Ismene (played with well-honed fire and wit by Caroline Treadwell) decides that the only sane response is "Fuck this shit."

Interactions with the audience occasionally veer into precious metatheatrical cliches. But Mia Kuziko's sure-handed staging works well at fleshing out Menekseoglu's weirdly satisfying fairy tale, which somehow combines a Frances Hodgson Burnett story line with psychodrama twists and an unassailable girl-power message.

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