As we congregate inside a church concealed within a cove of skyscrapers, half of us typing franticly on our BlackBerrys, I begin to wonder how well a centuries-old Greek tragedy will translate into the modern day. But young director Alexandra Spencer-Jones is full of fresh ideas.
The performance begins outdoors in front of a simple tomb. A flower lies on top. The hero waits silently in a pensive stance. And then a red double-decker drives past and we realise that, during this promenade performance, the din of 21st century London is not going to die down. Fortunately, the actors’ voices can carry.
…pop culture references abound…
Spencer-Jones’s skilfully re-envisioned script sets the story in the aftermath of WWII, and directly uses the otherwise distracting London cityscape. The modernisation doesn’t end here – pop culture references abound, and the staging blends the audience amongst the actors.
This intimacy often renders the tempestuous acting of Orestes (Thomas Christian) frightening, and the portrayal of Electra (Lydia Outhwaite) crescendos with a disturbingly realistic mental breakdown. But among these sometimes overly dramatic scenes, Matthew Curran and Rich Booth’s choral interludes deliver the much-needed comic relief, and our sympathies are drawn to Michael Totton’s farmer Jack, the most touchingly human of all the characters.
The play runs until 28 May at St Giles in the Fields Church in London’s West End.
Tickets cost £10