Friday, 11 September 2015

REVIEW: The Oresteia at the Globe

THREE stars

WATCHING The Oresteia at the Globe makes you realise what a perfect space this Wooden O is for such expansive Greek plays.
The play, a trilogy of Greek tragedies - Agamemnon, Libation Bearers and Eumenides - written by Aeschylus, has been reworked for the Bankside theatre by Rory Mullarkey.
He has pared it down to a three-hour version with two intervals and largely pulls it off allowing the audience to follow the trials and tribulations of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, Electra, Orestes, Apollo and Athena with ease thanks to the clear and concise verse.
It begins with the homecoming of Agamemnon who before setting out for the Trojan War, sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to the gods, something his adulterous wife Clytemnestra has been quietly smouldering with anger about.
Instead of greeting him with open arms she brutally murders him and puts her lover Aegisthus in his place.
It is then up to Orestes, the estranged son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon to decide whether to stop the endless cycle of revenge by bloodletting or to carry on and murder his mother.
There are many aspects of this production that I loved, one of which was the Chorus - played not by one but more than half a dozen modern and suited figures complete with briefcases, hats and umbrellas.
I also loved the Furies - clad in black with black make up on whitened faces and long, black and unruly hair.
The cast was great especially Katy Stephens as Clytemnestra. Determined and resolute she had a steely and evil glint in her eye when she saw her errant husband had returned and, drenched in blood, she seemed to relish her butchery.
Trevor Fox as her drunk and louche lover Aegisthus was hilarious and George Irving as Agamemnon and Joel MacCormack as Orestes were also great.
The production succeeds in mixing the classic traditional with contemporary and the cast get stuck in with gusto - particularly embracing all the blood and carnage that end the first two parts of the production.
In fact all is going well until the end of the third and final part when a giant, gold and winged phallus was paraded aloft around the Globe stage and amongst the Groundlings.
That aside, it was a fascinating and clever production.

The Oresteia is on at The Globe until Friday, October 16. Tickets from £5. Visit or call the box office on 020 7401 9919.

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