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The Greeks

November 3, 2012

My head was full of thoughts about Costas Vaxevanis, the journalist who was arrested and put on trial by the Greek authorities a few days ago for publishing a list of wealthy Swiss bank account holders / tax evaders in his country, when I went to see the American Conservatory Theater's production of Sophocles' Elektra.

The play, in an intelligent, new English language version by Timberlake Wertenbaker, focuses strongly on notions of justice and what radically different things it means to different people.

Elektra isn't extremely compelling theatre. I couldn't understand David Lang's noodling musical score (performed live on stage by Theresa Wong on solo cello). And Rene Augesen in the title role behaves and looks like a deranged sheep throughout. Not even the much more compelling performances by Olympia Dukakis as the Chorus and Caroline Lagerfelt as Clytemnestra could mitigate the bleating, wild-eyed monotony of Augesen's Elektra.

As a result of the shortcomings of ACT's production, I found myself thinking quite a bit about Vaxevanis and the weird way in which justice is and isn't currently playing itself out in modern day Greece several thousand years after Sophocles wrote his tragedy.

In Elektra, justice is a sort of impulsive, tit-for-tat sport rather than something metered out carefully in court. Agamemnon kills his daughter so his wife Clytemnesta kills him so their other daughter, Elektra, plots to revenge her father by killing her mother.

The courts acquitted Vaxevanis on Thursday of charges of violating personal privacy laws after he published the list of 2,059 names of prominent Greeks sequestering money in Switzerland.

The journalist's acquittal shows some measure of legal justice, I suppose. But the injustice of the divide between rich and poor in that country will continue to loom large over Greece long after the news of Vaxevanis' case fades.

I wonder whether the authorities' treatment of the journalist and attempt to cover up corruption will lead to more trouble? Let's hope that things don't escalate to the point where they start to resemble the House of Atreus' idea of "justice."

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