House of Atreus: I manage one third (GSMD, 30 March)


I did say:  I think I’m most enthused by the Guildhall offering–not only is it cheap, but they’re basically a music school with drama tacked on, so I think they’re likely to approach it from the right or at least a different angle.

But in the event I left after the first act (Iphigenia in Aulis).  It wasn’t that bad–I would have been quite interested to see what they would do with Agamemnon once they’d started from Iphigenia’s miraculous deliverance–but I was much more interested in going home and having my tea.

Many of the usual problems of staging Greek drama went unsolved–everyone was obviously the same age, which may not be so bad where different generations are supposed to be friends and equals, but is sheer madness for the Greek view of the world.  When I was a lad, hair-dye and walking-sticks were allowed, not because they would convince everybody, but as a symbol.

My hopes of some useful musical contribution remained unfulfilled–at one stage Clytaemnestra ordered the female chorus to raise a mourning hymn for Iphigenia and they didn’t (probably they couldn’t!)  The unintentional humour of Agamemnon’s son being announced as Erastes (obviously a precocious lad) was appreciated by a good quarter of the audience.  Maybe not on the same level as ‘the weasel of the sea’, but nevertheless.

As for the actors–You know, we may not meet each other again, so just let me give you a word of advice on parting: “Don’t wave your arms about! Get rid of that habit of waving them about”. The young man playing Menelaus waved his arms about far too much, and also tended to swallow his words.  I can do that!  And the other actors suffered from the same problems, not entirely helped by a production that very often had them facing each other rather than the audience.  But Olivia Ross as Clytaemnestra was really quite impressive, and I thought Laurent de Montalembert made a good fist of the problematic Euripidean Achilles.

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