In Tangled Yarn playwright and performer Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian uses her two grandmothers’ life stories to reimagine the story of Ismene. If you are sitting there blinking slowly trying to remember the story of Antigone’s sister, you can stop because poor Ismene doesn’t really have a story, other than she is the only one of Oepidus and Jocasta’s children to die a natural death…presumably. I mean, after everyone else has had their tragic ending we are left to assume that Ismene just went on living – cooking meals, sleeping, weaving, singing, doing whatever else ancient Greek women did. Maybe she married and had children – if so Oedipus’ incestuous descendants are still with us today.
So Tekerian has based her story on no story at all, which is handy from the point of view of having a clean slate on which to write, but frustrating in that it is an analogy without an analog. Ismene was a woman who lived and worked and died, and so were Tekerian’s grandmothers and so are 51% of the human population. So what?
Neither of the grandmothers was Greek – they were Armenian and Latvian. Tekerian assumed different accents for each, and I assume she was accurate in them. If the Latvian accent hard to understand, the Armenian, which sounded like the Gabor sisters’ Hungarian accents, was easier for me to understand, but each time she switched accents – she also spoke in what I assume was her natural voice (Tekerian is American but studied at the Lycée Français La Pérouse, so I assume she is at least bilingual – it took me a couple of sentences to settle down and start to understand. She was not miked and there was background music, so close attention had to be paid.