TO JULY 17
Like the better-known Oedipus Rex, Euripides’ Ion threatens the ultimate horror of ancient Greeks—the accidental killing of a family member—and both tragedies are set in motion by the exposure of an unwanted baby. As the god Hermes (Tiffany Givens) explains while weaving through sacred laurel trees surrounding the Oracle of Delphi, years ago, the god Apollo “wed Erectheus’ child—by force, that is” in a nearby cave. Now queen of Athens, that child, Kreousa, with her husband, visits the oracle to beseech the god for children. Kreousa also wants to know the fate of the son she bore Apollo and left to die. The manipulative god, however, has saved the baby, Ion (Michael McDonnell), who has been a servant of the temple his entire life and will try to kill Kreousa before discovering their true relationship. Natural Theatricals’ back-to-the-future sensibility about Greek theater is well-served by Deborah H. Roberts’ new translation, which emphasizes Euripides’ distaste for war and his courage in allowing humans to question the wisdom of the gods. (Jamie Boileau and Danielle A. Drakes are pictured.) “Where can we look for justice,” Kreousa demands, “when our rulers themselves injure us?” The Greeks, like many today, believed everything happens for a reason, but Kreousa insists that even Apollo take responsibility for the suffering he engenders. Recalling her previous visit to the cave, she says he might have let her be, but “you pleased Aphrodite.” That’s what the kids were calling it back in the fifth century B.C.E. The play starts at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, with performances at 2 p.m. Sundays and Monday, July 4, through Sunday, July 17, at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, 101 Callahan Drive, Alexandria. $20. (703) 739-5895.