Monday, March 17, 2008

Mixing It Up

In Helen, the characters and the background story of the Trojan War are from Greek mythology, which the Greek playwright Euripides used in his play of this title.

But in this McLaughlin version, Helen is in a different era of Egypt--not precise in terms of a decade, but pretty clearly in
modern times, say from the 1950s on.

In fact, the play mixes a lot of different time periods. The story of Io, as Helen points out, comes from years before Helen of Troy.

This might be a bit confusing, except that it's become more and more a part of drama these days. And not just on the stage or in movies. And when it comes to the mythological past, this post-modern mash-up approach probably began in a big way with the now classic television series' called Hercules and Xena, the Warrior Princess.

Xena in particular pioneered it, and can still be seen doing so on cable TV. In fact, in a first season episode, "Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts," Xena herself got involved in the Trojan War on behalf of her good friend, Helen.

While Xena didn't find herself in modern Manhattan or anything, her adventures ranged pretty freely through Greek, Roman and other ancient history and mythology, among characters and events otherwise separated by centuries and thousands of miles. The characters in her show may have worn togas and carried shields but they acted and sounded modern, right down to the slang. So a little matter of Helen of Troy watching the Weather Channel shouldn't bother anybody who's watched the exploits of Xena and Gabrielle.
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