Cracknell's new production of one of the most unrelentingly black of
all Greek tragedies captures all the horror of Sophocles' harrowing
study in burning and self-lacerating hatred.
years after the
murder of Agamemnon, others have made their peace with the reality and
only his daughter remains haunted by grief and anger. Unable to exact
any revenge beyond constantly reminding her mother of the crime, she
dreams of the return of her brother Orestes.
is on his
way, though Electra doesn't know that, and the bulk of the play is
devoted to exploring the depth of her hatred and what it is costing
draws us wholly into this very personal drama. The play is performed in
transverse, with a single row of audience members on each side, so we
are literally an arm's length from the actors, and Cracknell has
altered Nick Payne's new translation to internalise the play even
place of the
commenting Chorus, she brings onstage the spirit of Electra as she was
at the time of the murder, so that the child actress and the adult
Electra share the singing, chanting and speaking of the Chorus's lines,
turning external commentary into internal thought and emotion.
Cracknell also cuts some of Payne's more poetic passages, most notably the Chorus's speech that accompanies the darkest moment in the play, when the despairing Electra digs her own grave, leaving us nothing to hear but the grunts and breathing of the hard-working actress bringing the character's desperation fully alive.
Payne's adaptation is serviceable, only occasionally grating on the ear
with anachronistic infelicities like 'O K' and 'You're on your own'.)
gives a fully committed and courageous performance as Electra, allowing
herself to look obsessive, mad and even ugly in her depiction of the
character's uncensored passion.
creates a strong antagonist as Clytemnestra, taking full advantage of
Sophocles' reminder that the queen had what she considered fully
adequate justification for her crime.
Orestes and Natasha Broomfield's feeling but reasonable Chrysothemis
provide contrasts by which to measure Electra's near-madness, and
Martin Turner is solid as Orestes' mentor.
Return to Theatreguide.London home page.
- Electra - Gate 2011