Friday, 27 March 2015

Elektra/Orestes, Belvoir

Belvoir's back in the Greeks, revisiting one of the major tragedies in a new adaptation. Unfortunately, this is a deeply middling production with a few problems. The central device, that we see the action twice, once from the perspective of the dining room, and once from the perspective of the kitchen, seems like it should help, but frequently we don't get any development from the new angle - in particular, there's a long sequence in the second half where Orestes is hiding in the cupboard where we just get to hear the same dialogue through the door. There's also a critical failure in staging - when your play is largely built upon two acts of killing, having the first one of those acts performed in front of a mirror that makes it blatantly obvious that Orestes' knife is not actually going anywhere near Aegisthus means that the audience engagement is broken.

There's also a general problem that this feels very surface level - it's rare that we get a deeper sense of any of the characters and why they're doing what they're doing. Katherine Tonkin's Elektra probably survives best - the character with the clearest sense of what they're doing and how they're feeling, she's sullen, contradictory, in some ways a spoiled brat, but, and this is the important point, understandable. She's the one character on stage with a clear line in what she wants, and an idea in how she's going to achieve it.

Hunter Page-Lochard as Orestes has one point where we get a sense of where an interesting story may have been - when he reminds us he was 11 when he was sent into exile- but all too often he's used simply as a brooding prescence rather than anything rounded or developed. There is vengeance to be had, he is the one who will deliver that vengeance.

Linda Cropper's Klytemenestra also has her moments as she attempts to reach out to both of her vengeful children, but it's never really allowed to get very far - we never get the sense that her reaching is anything other than futile, which means all she's doing is beating a dead horse.

Ben Winspear's Aegisthus is nicely sleazy but, again, there's not a lot for him to play so he's killing time until he gets stabgbed. Ursula Mills' Khyrosothemis plays almost the straight person here, and may, possibly, have been able to provide an intersting perspective on the action, if she ever had anything to do, but ... again, she really doesn't.

This is only an hour long, but, as mentioned ... there just isn't a lot to fill that hour. These are taleneted performers, and there's some moments that look like they'll work ... but eventually, this is just kinda empty.

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