Electra

Jean Giraudoux, translated by Winifred Smith
Gate Theatre
(2003)

The main distinguishing feature of Erica Whyman's production of this modernised Electra is a moving and exceptionally powerful performance from Lucy Briers.

Soutra Gilmour's industrial design creates an interesting traverse space with actors within inches of the audience. They rush around tiny walkways in 1920s tennis party costume, disconcertingly appearing both in front of and behind the public.

Where the Greek originals tend to be spare, this second play in the Gate's Under the Curse season contains far greater elaboration with sometimes overly flowery language. This is especially true during a rather slow start building to the arrival onstage of the heroine.

In this version, Electra is very much like a detective, as with help from three Furies and the witty Grant Gillespie as a laid-back beggar who might be a God, she investigates the death of her father Agamemnon.

While King Aegisthus (Charlie Roe) and her mother Clytemnestra (Joanna McCallum) try to marry her off to a philosophical gardener (Malcolm Ridley), Electra longs for her lost brother. Orestes (Ben Silverstone) appears as a quietly beautiful stranger and attracts his sister.

The adultery of Agatha (Josephine Myddelton) proves a catalyst that allows the play to build to its dramatic denouement as Electra uncovers the truth.

This three-hour production contains some great dramatic moments including the Beggar's exciting commentary on the death of Agamemon. Sometimes though, the action gets lost in the wordy text which on occasion defeats one or two of the cast members.

This Under the Curse season was made up of :
Electra
Under the Curse
The Riot Act

Reviewer: Philip Fisher