Electra, 4****, London

by Sophocles.
A new version by John Ward.


The Bunker, 59A Southwark Street, London SE1 7PD to 24 March 2018.
Tues – Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 35 mins One interval.

TIUCKETS: 020 7403 11139.
Review: William Russell 1 March.

Spellbinding Greek tragedy

Give or take a couple of moments when laughter erupts at some infelicity of a line John Ward’s version of Sophocles tale of the brother and sister wreaking revenge on their homicidal mother and step father works a treat. The seven strong cast manages to fill the stage with what seems like hosts of people and the use of punk-rock music to back the bloody deeds works very effectively.

Electra and Orestes are the children of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon who have been separated for years – Orestes, apparently helped by his sister, had as a boy gone into exile. Their mother while Agamemnon was away fighting at Troy took up with Aegisthus and on his return killed him. The children are separately out for revenge. The Gods look on. Set more or less today a rebellion against Aegisthus under way of which Orestes is alleged to be leader.

Dario Coates gives a powerful performance as Orestes, and Sian Martin is a gloriously sexy Clytemnestra who has no regrets at taking up with Aegisthus and clearly reckons the man who had abandoned her all those years deserved what he got when he came home. Lydia Larson has more problems with Electra, but this is partly because the role is slightly contradictory as written as she has to be both avenger and victim. Megan Leigh Mason, who acts as one of the Chorus, has a particularly good time when conducting a television interview with a distinctly doing if because she has to Clytemnestra.

But this is a collective company affair not a version of the play designed to allow anyone to grandstand. The lighting is clever, the music sets off the action perfectly – it could have been a distraction – and Ward’s account of the bloodstained Atreus family life, which he also directs, is well worth braving the snow to see.

As for the unwanted laughter, anachronisms can emerge in performance not always obvious on the page or in rehearsal and can be easily remedied.

Electra: Lydia Larson.
Orestes: Dario Coates.
Clytemnestra: Sian Martin.
Aegisthus: Matt Bewer.
Chorus/King’s advisor: Dean Graham.
Chorus/ Chrys/Queen’s Advisor/TV host: Megan Leigh Mason.
Chorus/Farmer: Samuel Martin.

Director: John Ward.
Musical Director: David Hewson.
Designer: Samuel Wilde.
Lighting Designer: Sherry Coenen.
Movement Director: Rachel Drazek.
Fight Director: Mark Conway.

2018-03-04 14:35:44

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