Mourning becomes Electra – the story of the world

Yesterday I saw what must be the most supreme stage-production of ego-mechanics: “Mourning becomes Electra” by Eugene O’Neill.

Here is what Wikipedia writes:

“The story is an update of the Greek myth of Orestes to the family of a Northern general in the American Civil War. Agamemnon is now General Ezra Mannon, Clytemnestra is his second wife Christine, Orestes is his son Orin, and Electra is his daughter Lavinia. As an updated Greek tragedy, the play features murder, adultery, incestuous love and revenge, and even a group of townspeople who function as a kind of Greek chorus. Though fate alone guides characters’ actions in Greek tragedies, O’Neill’s characters have motivations grounded in 1930s-era psychological theory as well. The play can easily be read from a Freudian perspective, paying attention to various characters’ Oedipus complexes and Electra complexes.

Mourning Becomes Electra is divided into three plays with themes corresponding to The Oresteia trilogy by Aeschylus. In order, the three plays are titled Homecoming, The Hunted, and The Haunted. However, these plays are normally not produced individually, but only as part of the larger trilogy. Each of these plays contains four to five acts, and so Mourning Becomes Electra is extraordinarily lengthy for a drama. In production, it is often cut down. Also, because of the large cast size, it is not performed as often as some of O’Neill’s other major plays.

Main characters:

Captain Adam Brant – (Aigistos)

Lavinia Mannon ( Electra)

Christine Mannon (Klytaimnestra)

Brigadier General Ezra Mannon (Agamemnon)

Orin Mannon  (Orestes)

Captain Peter Niles

Hazel Niles


The adaption I saw was brilliant. It had some Weill’ish influence of “verfremdung” – the audience quickly gets the idea that this is a play. The director has a brilliant idea to incorporate an American jazz-band in the story/plot: they are playing almost non-stop, ( For over 3 hours) and  now and then the actors break out in song. Traditional songs – like”Shenandoah” and “Riders of the storm.” This has the effects of strengthening the emotional expression of the actors even more, and gives a very special effect – sometimes it made my hairs stand up, and brought tears: yet another aspect of these favorite themes in theater was shown, crystal clear: this is how we think we are. This is how it feels and how it works – as long as we embrace this way of thinking.

The stage is simplified: the bar and the band -and on the backwall/iron-wall, stylized video projections blown up – many of them de-fragmented and abstract.

When the actors are not in action, they sit as audience on the stage and watch. The actors talk to the projections, each other and passed each other.

They play for over three hours – and then the iron wall to their “world” opens, and behind it-behind the stage – we see a light filled room where a sliver of light pours into the darkened stage. And from this “heaven” outside the stage, an old friend of Electra/Lavinia talks about the possibility of forgiveness.

Lavinia will not hear about it. And she decides that to punish herself enough, she will live alone in the big lonely family house with all the ghosts of memories for the rest of her life.

When the play is over – all the actors, included the murdered ones, enter the stage again and hang out in the bar/jazz joint, talking and enjoying themselves.

That is the last image we see.

This is a play. This is a dream. We are all acting, it is not real, it is not serious: outside this stage we all hang out and are friends, enjoying the music.


This day, my whole ego-investment in “my stories” is much clearer that before seen as a postulate and nothing more. The inner dialog goes on, but today my investment in believing in them are almost non-existent.

I am also enjoying Anita Moorjani’s  book  about a near death-experience and complete healing of lymphoma:”Dying to be me.” What a wonder. Here is just one gem: “Perpetrators are more than just victims of their own circumstances. They’re the physical symptoms of underlying issues with us a whole.

here is a video with Anita:

It’s all coming together for me



Please note that nothing written here is intended as medical advice. Readers who think that they need help with a physical or psychological condition are advised to seek a qualified opinion.

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