REVIEW: Oresteia: This Restless House


By Isabella Fraser

Zinnie Harris has written a fierce, sprawling interpretation of Orestia in a marathon piece that pays off in guts, gore and the power of revenge, with the odd song and dance routine thrown in. Playing with elements of Brecht and hints of Tarantino, Dominic Hill’s brilliantly conceived direction challenges the cast to give their all which they do in spades: on stage the majority of the time, they switch seamlessly between performing different characters, playing discordant music and singing songs of love and hate. The score from composer Nikola Kodjabashia is at times brash, at times haunting, embracing the on-stage action.

Opening with a drunken Clytemnestra and a chorus of tramps – an entertaining trio reminiscent of Beckett – Harris has created a world of disorder and mayhem; from Clytemnestra prowling her home, waiting to revenge the murder of her daughter, to the death and destruction that ensues when that revenge plays out, there is discord, a restless house indeed. It is the ghosts that stride through this Greek house; a war has been won but at what cost. The sins of the father (and mother) are visited on Electra as she in turn kills her mother and ends up in an asylum, fearing the Furies coming through the windows.

At almost 4 and a half hours, this challenges the staying power of the audience. Time passes much quicker than expected, but there are moments that feel unnecessarily drawn out and some of the songs feel longer than required. Nonetheless, it is a powerhouse of a production that for all its fire and angst and visions of Hells, ends on an unexpectedly moving note of redemption.

Oresteia: This Restless House runs as part of the Edinburgh International Festival @ 18:00 @ the Lyceum until 27/08/17. Running time 4 hours 25 mins.

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