by Aeschylus translated and adapted by Ted Hughes.
Home (Theatre 1) 2 Tony Wilson Place M15 4FN To 14 November 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 4 Nov 2pm.
Audio-described 5 Nov (+ Touch Tour 6.30pm).
BSL Signed 13 Nov.
Captioned 11 Nov.
Post-show Discussion 13 Nov.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.
TICKETS: 0161 200 1500.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 31 October.
Classic status with unspoken modern resonance.
This year’s third Oresteia, Blanche McIntyre’s production of Ted Hughes’ adaptation is a single span, its unhurried gravity befitting this foundation-stone of drama, depicting civil society’s emergence.
Lyndsey Marshal’s Clytemnestra is a slight, concentrated figure on the colourless set, its gravelly floor backed, in Laura Hopkins austere design, by a curtain of chains. Her moves are the calculated behaviour of someone preparing long-determined revenge amid a world of slaughter and suffering.
Gary Shelford’s Agamemnon, the husband she will kill for sacrificing their daughter Iphigenia to obtain a favourable wind so the Greek fleet could sail for Troy – “for a few puffs of air,” it seems to her – is a rough male, soon dispatched; McIntyre shows her interpretative mettle after the floor, first scooped aside to make the purple carpet Agamemnon fatally treads, is then dug for the grave from which, in Aeschylus’ central play, Libation Bearers, Shelford rises in a plain dress as Electra, the daughter set on revenging her father’s death.
Similarly, the son who enacts the revenge, Orestes, is doubled by Simon Trinder with Aegisthus, who shares his lover Clytemnestra’s fate. The actor brings a childlike energy and directness to the older man, contrasting the increasingly haunted young killer.
Gaps between Aeschylus’ plays are demarcated by white light and silent adjustment to new roles. But the separation’s less before The Eumenides (play three) as Orestes escapes to Athens after his crimes, at Apollo’s command. Something beyond human wishes is needed to end the revenge cycle as a chorus of black-dressed Furies with long black hair arise and writhingly, vengefully pursue Orestes.
Finally, at inevitably lower theatrical voltage, the drama culminates in law-court replacing mob-revenge, Hedydd Dylan’s Athene calmly establishing the new order. At the start, sitting high, Dylan’s Watchman announced the Greeks’ return from Troy. A fine Welsh actor increasingly impressing in English theatres too, Dylan also movingly portrays the agitated, doomed Cassandra.
The Chorus of local people are significant in the production and its programme. This is, after all, an epic about individuals and society; through it, Manchester confirms its civic status in its newest artistic home.
Female Chorus Leader: Ronke Adekoluejo.
Watchman/Cassandra/Nurse/Athene: Hedydd Dylan.
Clytemnestra: Lyndsey Marshal.
Male Chorus Leader/Servant: Daniel Millar.
Agamemnon/Electra/Apollo: Gary Shelford.
Orestes/Aegisthus: Simon Trinder.
Female Chorus: Janice Bonner, Vicky Burrows, Jenny Carson, Charlotte Christie, Vicky Cosgrove, Rachel Drabble, Leanne Frank, Susan Holden, Sarah Jenyon, Jessica Lee, Vasilikey Kapsalos, Gillian Marsh, Katherine McDermott, Joan McGee, Poppy Olah, Gwen Pugh, Megan Relph, Steph Reynolds, Esther Routledge, Barbara Stafford, Clare Stuart, Judy Sykes, Constance Witham.
Male Chorus: Tony Cocker, Vincent Dugdale, Steve Haslam, Andy Hughes, Peter Jacobs, Jon Massey, Sebastian May, Ciaran Mitchell, Anthony Morris, Paul John O’Neill, Dave Ramsden, John Sweeney, Alan Sykes, Valentinos Thomos.
Manchester Metropolitan University Chorus: Tyler Conti, Comfort Fabian, Gina Fillingham, Holly-Robyn Harrison, Barney Healy-Smith, Stephanie Houtman, Ellie Jackson, Hannah Lawrie, Farran Mitchell, Catriona McFarlane, Declan O’Connor, Teresa Padden-Evans, Arushka Pollard, Harriet Poole, Michael Priestley, James Eken.
Director: Blanche McIntyre.
Designer: Laura Hopkins.
Lighting: Lee Curran.
Sound: Emma Laxton.
Movement: Anthony Missen.
Community Chorus director: Michael Bettridge.
Dramaturg: Petra Tauscher.
Assistant director: Cat Robey.