Theatre Review: Oresteia, 27 – 29 March, Traverse Theatre

29 Mar

This astonishing conception of the Oresteia at at the Traverse is an innovative yet striking adaptation of Aeschylus’s tragic Greek trilogy: Agamemnon, The Choephorae and The Furies.

This interpretation presents Orestes, son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, appearing before the audience, his judges, in a simplistically staged yet conspicuous courtroom to determine the answer to his trial concerning his crime of matricide – an act of revenge.

This intense solo portrayal presents Sandy Grierson (playing Orestes) suffering an ordeal of physical implementation whilst hurling the audience into its thematic concerns with revenge, violence, torture, guilt and justice, through the familial narrative of Orestes which coincides with the common pattern of the repetitive violence of revenge.

Sandy Grierson maintains a distressing dynamism offered through his overtly profound narration and his distressing physical performance – emitting sweat, tears and extensive emotion. The severe solemnity in Grierson’s vengeance is masterfully attained by the inconceivable physicality put into this compelling performance.

Composer Davey Anderson accompanies this visual extravagance with a poignant soundtrack that enhances the impact this theatrical performance provides. Director David Johnstone’s compact translation sharpens the effect of the ancient drama and observers will appreciate Johnstone’s undeniably eloquent rendition of Aeschylus’s trilogy in the light of their own presuppositions.

The slightly defiant Grierson concludes this exceptional production with his beguiling plea for justice by his gesticulation, offering to the Gods his apology and authenticity for the act of revenge he has taken upon his adulterous mother.

This exclusive performance has a physical, aural and visual potency that sears itself into the minds of the audience.

Review by Heather Young

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