Greek tragedy on a week night is always a risk, but The Marlowe Society do not disappoint with their courageous The Oresteia. The cataclysm is beautifully presented, addictive and compelling to watch, it strips the theatre to a cavernous space and offers it a place to breathe.
‘To war: the husband has been sent. For war: a daughter has been sacrificed. At home: the wife wants revenge. The Atreus family is in turmoil. Ten years have passed since Clytemnestra’s husband, Agamemnon, sacrificed their eldest daughter Iphigenia in order to stop military defeat. With their two other children absent from the scene, Clytemnestra is left alone to exact revenge. Blood for blood, wound for wound, act for act: Aeschylus’ earth shattering trilogy tells the story of a family at war with each other. Husband against wife, wife against son, son against mother.’
Rushing and fierce, this tragedy calls out for drama in all its elements. Composed in the production’s design, a richly textured, unpredictable and exciting set of design choices. The lighting design is mesmeric, with an atmospheric use of sidelights, flood lights and backlighting. Perspex screens create a sense of imprisonment and a white podium offers the centrality, which is so needed to tell this complex story. The Marlowe Society make a statement; they are a ‘Chorus’ who are going to tell a story, a vexatious story, and we cannot help indulging in the aesthetic of theatre.
Literally a blood bath, The Oresteia is subtly underscored with rhythmic music and in its heightened moments we are moved to fear with loud music and bright lights. The cast work seamlessly together and the spectatorship of the Chorus enhances the absurd art of violent action. There are times when vocal projection is weak and having made such specific set choices this needs to be considered further. However, I urge you to go and see this production, I leave the theatre rebounding and reeling with ideas, an inspiring undertaking. 4/5
Review written by Megan Mattravers.
The Oresteia is currently showing until Saturday 3rd February at the ADC Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…