Saturday, 5 September 2015

Theatre 2015: Review Twenty-Seven (sort of)

The Oresteia, Shakespeare's Globe, London. August 2015.

With this play Mr Norfolkbookworm and I did something that we've only done once before in all the years we've been going to the theatre - we left before the end.

I appreciate that we only saw the second preview of this and so perhaps we were a little harsh, but I'm afraid that after 85 minutes we had had enough.  I am still going to review what we saw however because although we only saw Act I this was the entire play Agamemnon which forms the first part of the Oresteia trilogy.

Agamemnon deals with the end of the Trojan War and the return of King Agamemnon to his kingdom and wife after a 10 year absence.  He returns with the doomed prophetess Cassandra and the knowledge that he'd tricked his wife and sacrificed his daughter to guarantee luck at the start of the war.  It seems he is welcomed home by a loving wife but it goes bloodily wrong very quickly.

My problems with this production were many...

I have pretty good hearing and yet so many of the lines were spoken from the Groundling area or by the cast with their backs to me that I couldn't hear them.

Many of the lines were accompanied by music, which meant that even when the cast were facing me I couldn't hear them.

The costumes were all over the place. The Chorus appeared to be from the 1940s - especially the women who looked like they were stereo typical members of the French Resistance.  Clytemnestra and her attendants looked like they'd stepped out of a 1960s Mary Quant fashion show (or if you are being less generous off the set of the Austin Powers films). The Greek army were in modern battledress with nightsticks and helmets.  To cap it all Agamemnon appeared in a traditional Ancient Greek costume.

My final problem was with the gore - there was so much that it lost all impact, there was no shock value at all and it all just seemed pantomime.

As I said I can't let you know how the final two parts of the trilogy were performed, I'm afraid we left.  I suppose I will always be a little curious but I don't regret leaving.

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