There’s a moment early in Mary Arrchie’s production of Euripides’ “Electra” that holds a great deal of promise. After delivering a portentous slog of scene-setting exposition, actor Matthew Bausone takes a moment and then asks whether or not the audience understands any of what he just said. Bausone then proceeds to take a black sharpie and scrawl out the bloody family history that underlies the play’s themes of justice, vengeance and honor. Had this production, starring a cast of primarily ISU students and directed by Sonja Moser, been more purely dedicated to moments like this, a cheeky, yet down-to-earth brand of post modern interjection, it could be a great success. Likewise, had it been a simple, straightforward recounting of bloody matricide, I think this young, enthusiastic troupe could have performed the job quite admirably. Unfortunately, the production never quite decides which version it wants to be and so finds itself caught awkwardly in the middle. Mostly earnest recounting with a sprinkling of clever asides and commentary, the production feels kind of half-baked. Add on top of that the relative difficulty of the text and the inexperience of the cast, and you have a show that is, more often than not, pretty tedious. As the cold-blooded, hot-furied Electra, Emily Nichelson brings a nice mixture of vulnerability and boiling rage, plus a knockout singing voice. While her counterpart Matthew Hallahan, who plays Orestes, can never quite find the right mixture between work and play, mugging one moment and earnestly shouting the next, Nichelson’s Electra is a fully formed creature. Her stage presence is rivaled (and in fact is overshadowed) only by Caitlin Boho as her steely mother, Clytemnestra. Boho’s assured, confident portrayal of a queen and matriarch under siege is the play’s greatest strength. And the closer that Electra and Orestes get to murdering their mother and avenging their father, the clearer it becomes that Electra is far more like Clytemnestra than she would ever care to admit. Indeed, the play does contain a number of nice theatrical moments. The end, especially, I found to be quite moving. The pearls were there, they simply lacked the string that would hang them altogether. I expect as these actors grow and learn become more confident in their abilities, there will certainly be a number of fine productions in their future. They’re just not there quite yet.