The Cambridge Greek Play
The simple reason is that I don't understand enough of it. I was brought up to read Greek, and most spoken versions remain pretty incomprehensible to me, unless I have the Greek text on my knee. I remember going to see a performance of Aristophanes' Birds when I was in the sixth form, and the only line I caught in the whole damn play was spoken by Iris... 'all' athanatos eimi' ('but I'm immortal') she grinned at a crucial point, winsomely enough. It didn't take me too long to see that I would have got more out of just curling up in an armchair and reading the text. Since 1974, I have resolutely eschewed Greek drama performed in Greek.
Anyway, this puts me in a tricky position every three years when it comes to the triennial Cambridge Greek play (whose 1974 Medea was the last performance I saw).
This venerable Cambridge institution goes back to 1882, since when the university has staged a play in the original Greek pretty much every three years, a bit more irregularly in its early days. It was the first successful venture of this kind,and more or less since antiquity itself. The original idea was not actually to enjoy the brilliance of Greek literature. It was put on with a much more archaeological aim in view -- to explore how Greek tragedy could be re-enacted in the physical context of a theatre, and to recreate costumes, settings and authentic props. The literature came second.
In the early years, it was a huge society event. There were special trains put on from London, and the great and the good flocked to Cambridge to see the likes of the wonderfully attractive Rupert Brooke play the second guard from the left (apart from a starring role for Janet Case, Virginia Woolf's Greek teacher, in 1883, there was not a women in the cast till 1950); the music was specially composed by the likes of Vaughan Williams. It is still a semi-professional production, rather than a bit of student am. drama.
Anyway, this year the Greek play is the Agamemnon. And, for no particularly good reason (they have useful surtitles now, I'm told), I am keeping up my record of non attendance...from bloody minded-ness more than anything else. (Sorry James -- the charming invitation nearly worked, but I do have my record to sustain).
But they do say it is really very good this year, and most people dont feel like me about spoken Greek; I am told there are still a few matinee tickets left. So go for it, and report back!