(Seen at the afternoon performance on 11th October 2014).
The woman next to the
monkey fell asleep around 20 minutes into the production. Rather a shame as,
after a slow start, this hit a rhythm that sustained it until the end.
Frankly, there's no denying that this is pretty slim on plot. Worse, Frank
McGuinness comes up with a plodding text which director Ian Rickson seems
reluctant to embellish with the gloriously full stage a Greek tragedy usually
suggests. A chorus of six doesn't amplify things much when few are on the stage.
Still, nicely played for all that.
Kristin Scott Thomas (fluffs a few lines) throws herself wholeheartedly into
the role, to the extent that the first scene is obviously a psychological "warm
up" for a "fully barking" rest of the show. This switch is striking, and a valid
interpretation which makes total sense... but perhaps wastes an opportunity to
chart descent over more scenes.
The excellent Liz White and Diana Quick (mother and sister Chrysothemis and
Clytemnestra respectively) take the acting honours, bringing a far more measured
insanity and sound anchor to proceedings. Also of note is Jack Lowden and Peter
Wright (Orestes and Servant), on whom the resolution mostly falls.
Simplicity is this production's strength visually (though Mark Thompson
should have ditched the tree which blocks the rear stalls unnecessarily), and
its failing intellectually. A few more changes in tone, a wittier translation
and bravery in adding tension would have gone some way to bringing out the true
nature of such an old yet still emotionally affecting story.