After an arrestingly modern version of the Greek Tragic trilogy at the Almeida (now on the West End), The Oresteia is brought to life at the Globe.
The Oresteia adapted by Rory Mullarkey
Having already established himself as one the best new British playwrights, Rory Mullarkey transitioned to bonafide big name in 2014, winning two more gongs (The George Devine Award and the Pinter Commission) to add to his 2013 James Tait Black Prize for Drama.
"The Globe space needs big language and big ideas," Mullarkey says of his latest project "and Aeschylus' trilogy provides that in spades, so I can't wait to see how audiences respond to a fresh, new adaptation. It's a monumental challenge, but an exciting one.” Simply the step of concentrating Aeschylus' trilogy into one play is an achievement, and Mullarkey keeps the original alive without concession.
Aeschylus's epic trilogy
Written by Greek playwright Aeschylus for an Athenian festival in 458 BC, (a trilogy made up of Agamemnon, the Choephori and the Eumenides) the story begins with the triumphant return of Agamemnon from the conquered city of Troy. Before leaving, he sacrificed his own daughter to the gods to entreat victory for his army but despite the gods’ approval, his wife Clytemnestra takes her revenge by killing him in the way he killed their daughter— with three blows, and a prayer to the gods.
But no murder is forgiven in Ancient Greece. Agamemnon’s children Electra and Orestes return to Argos. They exact vengeance on Clytemnestra and her lover-king. The final act of The Oresteia concerns Orestes’ judgement before the Furies of the Underworld and even the gods themselves, to close an endless cycle of violence.
Adele Thomas: theatre director extraordinaire
Adele Thomas undertakes this vast project, spanning so many generations of one family. She has had great success at the Globe with her five star productions of Thomas Tallis, and last year's atmospheric revival of The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
Come and judge for yourselves...
Mullarkey's writing shines steadily throughout what becomes a rather relentless production. Sharp, straightforward language and flights of lyricism keep poetry functional, and the functional poetic, and Mullarkey's prose is fresh and memorable.
But it's done little service by a production that makes no space for dramatic peaks and troughs in an endless barrage of high-pitched tragedy. Performances are striking, although the mix of modern dress and ancient armour was confusing, summing up a play with many striking elements but without cohesion.
21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT | MAP
|Nearest tube||Blackfriars (underground)|
29 Aug 15 – 29 Oct 15, Performance times to be confirmed.
|Website||Click here to book via the Globe's website.|