Agamemnon Camden People’s Theatre 22 October


WWII schtick in prospect

I can’t say that I approached this adaptation of Aeschylus by Action to the Word with any great hopes:

But it’s another outbreak of Gratuitous WWII disease!  NOooo!!!

and I was quite right.  The WWII setting seemed to be entirely gratuitous (apart from oh-so-clever Holocaust references) since WWII  wasn’t in any way an intra-family conflict the way that (for instance) WWI was.  That might have worked, both from the ‘cousin Nicky’ angle and the Wilfred Owen senseless sacrifice one.

Anyway, this production had the choruses in rather (perhaps, to be fair, deliberately) gauche rhyming verse and a feeling that the company would rather be doing Titus Andronicus (their next show I think) instead and wade through lots of blood.  Of course, one of the points of Greek tragedy is to maintain a high–almost unbearable–level of emotional tension by keeping the violence locked within formal constraints, while here the company had rather blundered into doing the opposite.

Programmes were among the things lacking, but it is possible to work out who did what to some extent here.  I thought that Laura Gallacher made a strong and commanding impression as Clytaemnestra, in spite of being young and good-looking, but nobody else did!


So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

That is more or less the explanation for the sacrifice of Iphigenia.

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