"The all-female, gender-neutral casting of this play works well and serves to play up its interest in the tensions between women."Callum Aitken

A visually minimalistic adaptation which transposes Greek tragedy into a decidedly modern vernacular, Electra features impassioned performances by Grace England as the eponymous character and Elizabeth Gibbs as Clytemnestra. The two female leads are like electromagnets, each caught in the other’s force and the play turns on their attraction and repulsion. They foreground astutely the complex dynamics of the infamous mother-daughter pair, crafting a relationship that is both fraught with vengeful loathing and subtended by the unbreakable love of mother for daughter.

“I would give my right hand for you,” Clytemnestra tells Electra in one particularly charged scene, “though I don’t like you.” The statement becomes emblematic of their relationship. We find ourselves in a contradictory universe where a daughter longs to murder her mother, and where a mother can simultaneously love her children and rejoice in the prospect of their deaths. Gibbs delivers a wonderfully complex performance, capturing well the concinnity between love and hatred. The all-female, gender-neutral casting of this play works well and serves to play up its interest in the tensions between women.

"Electra features impassioned performances by Grace England as the eponymous character and Elizabeth Gibbs as Clytemnestra"Callum Aitken

Perhaps the production’s greatest weakness is its writing. On one hand, it certainly makes transparent the Hamlet-esque overtones in Electra’s character, who in the grip of melancholy, continuously bemoans the murder of her father and exacts a long-delayed revenge on her step-father/uncle and mother/aunt. However, the adaptation does not always deal effectively with the tendency to prolixity inherent in Greek tragedy. In one particular episode, Aegisthus (Grainne Dromgoole) pontificates on the nature of an anachronistically monotheistic God, while a member of the chorus wanders off on a directionless discourse on hedgehogs, which falls flat and never fulfills its comic aspirations.

"Gibbs delivers a wonderfully complex performance, capturing well the concinnity between love and hatred"

Efforts to modernise the mode of discourse are laudable, but flawed in execution. In particular, the excessive use of profanity in several scenes makes the audience numb with repeated exposure. This would have been far more effective in terms of its shock value had it had been deployed more sparingly at key moments.

An initially disorienting meta-theatrical interlude features an extra in the chorus stepping out of character to declare her love for ‘Electra.’ Once one mentally readjusts to the abrupt shift in key from dramatic ‘fiction’ to a reality which is itself a fiction within a fiction, the episode is quite intriguing. The actress’s confession that she is “in love with a word” is poignant and witty. To be in love with a word, she says, is quite enough. To go to bed with it is simply going too far. The actress’s confession is perhaps reflective of Electra’s love for her dead father, Agamemnon.

This raises the question, do revenge tragedies hinge on the fact that the revenger commits acts of violence for the idea of someone? An intriguing play that questions whether the dead are reduced to powerful words which dramatically shape the behaviour of the living

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