Orestes at the Guildhall
A reworking of the ancient Greek play by Euripides within a modern-day setting, Orestes is a mythological piece that illuminates the aftermath of a vengeful murder and the emotional and judicial repercussions that follow.
The 90-minute drama is directed carefully by Charlotte Gwinner to preserve the authenticity of the language whilst modernising the entire production, and centres around siblings Orestes and Electra after they have conspired to murder their adulteress mother, Clytemnestra.
Electra (Mireen Mack) opens the show in her softly spoken Scottish accent, unveiling the massacre. She is both vulnerable and tenacious, switching between the two with perfect fluidity. The character’s compassionate side emerges with genuine emotion as she comforts her unhinged, delirious brother Orestes (played by the slightly hammy Uri Levy) as he tries to comprehend his fateful actions and their eventual punishment.
A supporting cast of impish, St Trinian-style chorus girls certainly add flamboyance to the performance. Their haunting harmonies and choreographed dance moves stop the piece from being staid, and the casual hooded top and ripped up jeans on Orestes’s best friend Pylades (Brandon Ashford) as he pontificates in ancient tongue does well to remind us the play is set in present day.
A two-storey house engulfs the entire stage. The siblings are hidden, living amongst the rubble-strewn foundations with all of their belongings. A clever use of lighting changes up the scenes whilst the set remains untouched until a dramatic deus ex-machina finale brings the piece to a close.
The contemporary twists communicate Orestes to a fresh audience whilst murmurs of ironic humour attempt to lighten the mood in what is essentially an age-old tragedy of epic proportions.
Image: Clive Barda
Orestes is at the Guildhall from 22nd March until 27th March 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.