Greek tragedy on stage

IF one vengeance is fine, so is another.This is the seemingly simple premise behind the Suffolk College performance of Greek tragedy, Electra. Electra, the shattered daughter dispossessed by her murdering stepfather Aegisthus, confronts her mother Clytemnestra, accomplice in the slaying of her war hero father, Agamemnon.

By James Fraser

IF one vengeance is fine, so is another.

This is the seemingly simple premise behind the Suffolk College performance of Greek tragedy, Electra.

Electra, the shattered daughter dispossessed by her murdering stepfather Aegisthus, confronts her mother Clytemnestra, accomplice in the slaying of her war hero father, Agamemnon.

Orestes, her brother, has returned from exile to speedily despatch Aegisthus. But now, as the pair of them stand ready to kill the woman that gave them life, revenge shows it is never a simple dish. Not in this family.

Two and a half millennia have passed since the ancient Greek dramatist Euripides wrote this probing, tragic masterpiece. It has since prompted the philosophical glories of plays such as Shakespeare's Hamlet.

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These drama students, perhaps happily due to their youth, cut to the chase and spoke through the years. The cast captivated the audience with so vivid a performance, their lines could have been dashed down yesterday. The curtain came down to awed silence.

All wore masks – crafted with astonishing skill by Laraine Green – and this touch gave the tragedy an authenticity that, while it sometimes bordered on the submissive, was nonetheless mesmerising.

Philip Vellacott's translation of the original Greek may not be the slickest of dramatic texts, but the actors triumphed in bringing their masked features to animated life with real passion yet cool, delicate comportment. They made it look easy, none more so than Selena Daniels' electrifying Electra.

Not an ounce of feeling stayed hidden behind her anguished visage, her movement gauged with the watchful grace of an injured tigress. You could almost see the sparks.

Lisa Brundle as Clytemnestra led a well marshalled, supporting cast with a particularly strong performance but no one stinted in contributing to a compelling evening.

Rightly pleased, director Brian Theodore Ralph said that they had only nine weeks rehearsal. I refused to believe him – it must be a myth.

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