Orestes

Nimbus at the Minneapolis Theater Garage through September 23; 651.229.3122

Nimbus follows up last June's Agamemnon with the completion of its two-part staging of Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy, and this edition provides energy and insight to match the first. A helpful recap comes at the beginning, and it involves cannibalism, epic war, spousal murder, and the sort of need for revenge in which the Greek dramatists specialized.

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From there it's up to Orestes (Brian Hesser) to off his mother Clytemnestra (Katherine Kupiecki), then run like hell from the bat-shit insane Furies (Charla Baily, Emma Gochberg, Ariel Pinkerton, in heavy makeup and rags, hissing and howling with convincing otherworldliness). Clearly this mess has to be figured out, so enter the smug and imperious Apollo (Andrew Chambers) and the icily cerebral Athena (Jessica Wright).

By the time Orestes' fate is decided, we've seen the invention of the jury trial and the passing of the baton of justice from the hands of elemental forces into the hands of rational humanity (those were the days). It's heady stuff, rendered here with a satisfying emphasis on the text and director Liz Neerland's ability to draw straightforward yet distinctive performances from her cast. Mercy prevails over bloodlust in the end, which, given what comes before, is the equivalent of a warm and fuzzy conclusion—as long as you bear in mind that Zeus has his lightning bolts always at the ready.
 
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