Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Review: Oresteia at Trafalgar Studios

Trafalgar Studios
Reviewed on Monday 7th September 2015

Time takes centre stage in Robert Icke's three and a half hour long production of Oresteia by Aeschylus. With clocks on screens positioned around the auditorium, as well as in the bars, audience members are strictly told to be in their seats by the start time. During the ten minute pause and fifteen minute interval a countdown is displayed, after which the play resumes regardless of whether the audience are ready or not. The concept is brilliant, before the show even begins questions are being asked and the intensity begins to build.

It's safe to say Greek tragedies are not everybody's cup of tea, but Icke's new adaptation of Oresteia is utterly remarkable. The family drama spans across the generations as the evening moves forward. Some scenes, such as the intense family meal, are incredibly relatable whilst others, such as when Klytemnestra (Lia Williams) and Agamemnon (Angus Wright) argue over whether to murder their daughter, are unimaginably heart wrenching. With a slick set and top notch sound design, the tension surpasses breaking point many times.

The cast are on the same page and gel perfectly together. I was defeated and emotionally drained after watching one performance, so can't begin to imagine what it's like for the company to perform eight shows a week - they pour out their souls. The performance of the night comes from Lia Williams who is out of this world; her impeccably delivered "As a woman..." speech was the highlight of my evening. She was feisty, honest, open, harrowing, heart-breaking and terrifying throughout. 

I cannot remember the last time I went through so many extreme human emotions whilst watching a piece of theatre. I am going to need days to recover; Icke's production is overwhelmingly impressionable. It makes some tremendous points about justice, conflict, trust, family and time. Oresteia certainly isn't the kind of show I could cope with seeing regularly, but it is the kind of show everyone needs to experience at least once. Unforgettable. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Oresteia runs at Trafalgar Studios until 7th November 2015.
Please visit www.atgtickets.com for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

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