The comic in the tragic: parody and critique in modern productions of Euripides’ Hecuba

Hardwick, Lorna (2005). The comic in the tragic: parody and critique in modern productions of Euripides’ Hecuba. Documenta (Special issue: The Performance of the Comic - eds Kolk, M. and Decreus, F.)), 23(3) pp. 306–315.

URL: http://www.artsafrica.org/archive/documents/docu-0...

Abstract

This paper reflects on the intermingling of the comic and the tragic genres and introduces the concept of the para-tragic, often interchangeable with the notion of parody. Concentrating on three recent productions in the UK of Euripides’ tragedy Hecuba she investigates the parody of institutions and social conventions of the play. The Donmar production exposed the perversion of Xenia/ the tradition of hospitality/when a discussion between Polymester and Hecuba about murder and theft was set in the social rituals of a beach picnic, complete with tea and sandwiches. A second parodic critique was offered by the RSC foregrounding the democratic debate and decision making. The mock trial by Agamemnon at the end of the tragedy showed a democracy corrupted by the very people who proclaimed its values. Critics reacted violent on both interventions.

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