Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Electra at the Old Vic, review

Four stars

THERE'S an old saying "you can choose your friends but not your family". I suspect that if she could have Electra would not have picked Clytemnestra to be her mother.
Sophocles’s story tells of Electra, a woman whose father Agamemnon has died at the hands of his wife and her lover.
Agamemnon's beloved daughter has been in mourning ever since. But it's more than just grief. This is a woman who has gone past grief and is now full of hatred, bile and out for revenge.
She doesn't want to just punish her mother with words, she is determined Clytemnestra be punished by death.
A new version of this Greek tragedy is now on at the Old Vic starring Kristin Scott Thomas in the title role.
Her portrayal of this tragic woman is brilliant. She is like a petulant teenager holding on stubbornly to the view that her mother and her mother's new lover have no adequate excuse for killing her father.
It is an obsession in which she is being eaten up by rage and a desire for revenge and as the story unfolds, her anger builds.
Electra paces the stage in front of the palace at Mycenae grabbing at her dirty smock dress, bare foot, unwashed hair, wild sunken eyes and looking dirty and unkempt and raging at the injustice of what's happened.
She is almost oblivious to the women around her, including her sister and to a certain extent Clytemnestra, who are full of concern for her and her mental state.
When her brother Orestes returns home from exile Electra's fury finally explodes and the end is bloody, merciless and horrifying.
Played in the round, it is the most astonishing and powerful performance that totally draws the audience in.
The supporting cast is also excellent in particular, Diana Quick as Clytemnestra who clearly struggles with the reality of what she has done and her love for her daughter and Liz White as Electra's younger sister, Chrysothemis, who is caught between her love for both women.

Electra is on at the Old Vic, The Cut, Waterloo until December 20. Tickets from £10. Visit or call the box office on 0844 871 7628.

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