The roof’s sprung a leak and Guy urges Alice – plainly overwhelmed with everything (fear she’s a bad mother, sleep deprivation, general panic) – to deal with it. What follows is an intense extended hallucination in which roofers Cloudy (Ryder) and Fluff (Selina Martin, who helped create the characters with Ryder) enter the scene. The title of the play refers to the mammalian diving reflex, and the notion that if you blow in a baby’s face before putting it under water, it will hold its breath. All this plays out on director, choreographer and designer Monica Dottor’s beautiful set, made especially lovely with cloud constructions (Taylor Young provided assistance constructing these), which appear to hang from trees.All the actors handle the dialogue and Dottor’s choreography – which often comes out of nowhere and heightens the hallucinatory effect – superbly.The COC Orchestra under Johannes Debus follows Goerke in close step—which with a reinforced army of musicians resulting in three violin and viola sections, as well as bulked up clarinets, horns and trumpets—is a considerable achievement.Richard Strauss’ score, the first of his many collaborations with librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, has a well-deserved reputation for loudness but it also contains intimate and lyrical moments where is called for.They could be working inhabitants of an estate, roughing it up in the bush in the way of Susanna Moodie, or perhaps stuck in a decaying manor on the British moors.Both sisters wear dresses that have seen better days: Erin Wall’s Chrysothemis trying to look more put-together and marriageable; Goerke’s Elektra, wild and barefoot.After Orest avenges his father by killing his mother, he never returns to the stage in as he is already being pursued by the Furies for matricide—and this storyline continues in Greek legend and the tragedies based on it.
Her final dance upon hearing the news of Orest’s matricide is more childish twirling than maenad frenzy.The music often abandons tonality, and yet the sweeping late-Romantic vocabulary of Stauss’s subsequent works is undeniably there.The Orchestra nimbly negotiates all the atmospheric shifts.Bullock’s voice may be slightly underpowered and uneven, as is Wall’s still Arabella-esque soprano, but her dramatic commitment and emotional intelligence more than make up for the occasional dip under the orchestra.Michael Schade’s Aegisth is a fabulous comic miniature.
), Robinson and Costume Designer Anita Stewart have replaced their original abstract, expressionist concept of an indeterminate era with designs that are more historically specific.