Adapted from Euripedes by Helen Edmundson
Directed by Nancy Meckler
This engrossing production by Shared Experience presented the savagery
and bloodletting of ancient Greece as vividly described by Euripides,
and cast its spell over the audience.
I have little knowledge of Greek tragedies but Orestes was very comprehensible,
probably because a lot of the issues incorporated within the play (penned
in 408 BC), still poignantly apply today - for example the falsehoods
surrounding the invasion of Iraq by the USA, UK and other allies, which
has led to the slaughter of over 650,000 people there.
This wanton mass killing also took place in Greece, with life having little
value as far as the leaders of the armed forces were concerned. Sound
The story of Orestes (Alex Robertson), son of Agamemnon, King of Argos,
revolves around the banishment of the king by his mother, who was subsequently
killed in revenge by Orestes with the help of his sister Electra (Mairead
The slaying of his mother drives Orestes into fits of madness, and he
sometimes feels abandoned by the god Apollo, but at other times he proclaims
that Apollo ordered him to do the killing.
Orestes and Electra adore each other, their strong feelings for one other
bordering on incest.
The play opens with her nursing him six days after his foul deed. He is
haunted by the demons who condemn him for his act. As with the rest of
the characters he delivers some profound and richly textured lines.
His insanity increases as his plight grows worse. The appearance of the
adulterous Helen (Clara Onyemere) and then her self-seeking husband, Menelaos
(Tim Chipping) makes him fall into further despair.
As with King Lear, written two thousand years later, the figure of Orestes
comes across as a sometimes sympathetic and wise madman, living in a world
where madness is the norm and so called sanity is not to be trusted or
I cannot praise this play too highly.