I appreciated the fresh take on this play. It didn’t lose any of the original nuances even with the production taking a more contemporary approach with the costumes and characters. The set was minimalistic which complimented the rich dialogue and performers.
The actors were put to the test of making ancient characters feel vital again, which they so powerfully accomplished with venerable moments that left the audience speechless. Muhaddisah Batool’s Clytemnestra is a character who wants vengeance against Jacob Moro’s Agamemnon for the sorrow and torment she feels after losing a daughter. Rooted in angst, she is both a villain and a victim. Batool delivers a standout performance.
Equally captivating was Rose Donoghue as Iphigenia. Her sweet and innocent demeanor at the beginning made her gruesome sacrifice in the end all the more upsetting and contributed to her haunting presence throughout the play. Iphigenia’s characterization made the audience more sympathetic to Clytemnestra’s loss. Despite Agamemnon being mentioned through dialogue much more than he ever appeared onstage, Moro made his presence known throughout the play.
For theatre historians, fans of Greek theatre, or people looking for a unique opportunity to watch a play that has shaped what we now know about Greek tragedy, Theatre Erindale provided an excellent adaption of Aeschylus’ The Oresteia which ran from November 8-17. The Oresteia lays out a particularly grueling and bloody chapter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra’s family life right after the end of the Trojan War.
What was especially interesting about this production was how the audience was thrown right into the middle of the action. Instead of simply watching, the audience members were initially guests at the wedding of Iphigenia and Achilles prior to the show and were able to interact with the cast as they roamed around in character. The audience was divided into houses and given leaders to follow throughout the show as it moved from room to room. At times, there were up to seven scenes being performed simultaneously, some even in the same room. We had to concentrate and focus on the different scenes to form the whole story.
I really felt immersed in the play as the actors moved throughout the audience, given that there was not an assigned spot for the audience to sit down and watch. This interactive staging in the theatre gave the illusion that the audience was a part of the action as opposed to being onlookers, effectively shattering the fourth wall. The chorus (which is a pivotal part of Greek theatre) was well put together and arranged. The performers provided a sense of narration for the audience to clarify the main characters’ actions and the overall events.
Due to the unique production style and how the performance was arranged, we were unable to see all the scenes and aspects of the play. There were a few times where one would’ve felt confused during specific scenes because there was not enough context. In retrospect, I think it would be helpful for audiences to have read the original text before seeing the production for a better understanding.
Overall, I was very impressed with the intricacy and elegance in which the play was performed. A long, bloody trilogy can be depressing and frivolous if it isn’t produced properly, but Theatre Erindale did The Oresteia justice. We witnessed the impact of Greek tragedy through moments of heightened emotion and gripping action that left the audience asking, “what truly is justice and who rightfully deserves it?”