Edinburgh Fringe 2017
In exile, Electra has one thing on her mind – revenge. When her brother, Orestes seeks her out she is able to enlist him in that mission. She is determined to kill the man who killed their father, Agamemnon. Then to finish off their mother, Clytemnestra. First Aegisthus, the man who killed their father and then married their mother must be dispatched. Orestes takes this task on and manages that offstage. Their mother Clytemnestra, seeking a form of reconciliation then comes visiting and Electra undertakes to manage the final task herself.
Symposium Hall can be a tricky venue as you never get blackouts. It is a directorial challenge that does not phase this impressive young company one bit. The chorus are there to help us out and so they do whilst there are strong performances from the rest of the cast who take on the principal roles. The lack of blackouts is not a hindrance as all is in front of us to see. The irony of showing all when it is the mental instability of Electra that is the way into the story and the focus of the tale – often a hidden disability – is not lost.
The script is very accessible throughout and the choral pieces in particular are impressive. Often they can be the weakest thing, particularly amongst a young company who can struggle with the concept. Here it is the interchange between the characters that can be a little stilted but Greek tragedy does not make for much chit chat.
The costumes were functional as was the set which made it comfortable viewing in the main.
I had only three gripes all of which are fairly minor. Firstly, check your costume before coming onstage; throughout the piece Electra had one leg of her jogging bottoms half way up her calf.
Secondly, the mother should at least be recognisable as the mother of her daughter. A tall blond as Clytemnestra without the colouring or posture of her daughter stretched things a bit though there may be very reasonable reasons as to why this was what we saw.
Finally, when the chorus rip their blouses at the end – do we need that? I am a certain age and it was uncomfortable. In fact, one of the chorus did not do it and I wondered if she felt the same discomfort as I did.
This was a particular pity as the sequence it ended was one that I found particularly well directed. The make up the chorus shared seemed a fancy rather than poignant until they all out on red lipstick very badly. The grotesque nature of the sequence was visually very effective so ripping the blouses, whilst I got the image was, for me, just a little too much.
All of these criticisms were minor in comparison to a performance that I thought was well worth viewing and the equal of the Greek tragedy. This style of theatre asks of its actors a highly developed skill base it is a well trodden path. This had the look of a company who knew the map well enough already.