Aidan Tulloch

“Smashing,” I hear actor Oliver O’Brien say as I enter the Corpus Playroom, and I wonder for a moment whether I’m in the right place. This week’s Corpus main show is Techno Electra, an adaptation of Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy Electra, which follows Electra and her brother Orestes in their pursuit of vengeance against their mother and step-father for the murder of their father. This is writer Aidan Tulloch’s first full-length play, and he tells me the first step of adapting Sophocles’ work was modernizing the language, making it accessible and ensuring it is as relatable to us now as it would have been to ancient Greek audiences. In doing so, he has allowed the moments of humour in the play to shine through – “I think this is the most fun anyone’s ever had with a tragedy,” he jokes to the cast.

"Tulloch and Gold both see the chorus’s slam poetry sections as a place to stretch the show creatively, in a way that feels fresh, thrilling, and natural."

Techno Electra is still first and foremost a tragedy though; Tulloch tells me he was drawn to the play’s melancholy and the way it allows audiences to see sadness within a contained environment on stage. Another appealing aspect is the complexity of the characters. The tension between Electra’s seemingly noble quest for justice and her personal desire for revenge already forms a compelling character arc in the original, so Tulloch has sought to draw out similar complexity from other characters. By playing up the inner conflict within Electra’s mother and giving the three chorus members their own personalities and opinions, he hoped to add more layers to this relatively straightforward tragedy and bring in a contemporary voice that the audience can connect with.

Those “deeply fascinating” characterisations are part of what got director Ella Gold interested in bringing this modern take on Electra to life. She tells me wants to prove how exciting and universally appealing a Greek tragedy can be – and a big part of that is the music. Tulloch is a composer as well as a writer, and is always looking for ways to combine spoken word with music. He is using minimal techno music, which he describes as both “euphoric and melancholic”, to create atmosphere and enhance the spectacle of this family drama. For him, the music is another character he can play with by integrating it into scenes and letting it play over the chorus passages. Meshing the music with the language of the play, particularly when it comes to the beautiful duologues between Electra and various other characters, allows him to create an almost story-time-like atmosphere at these emotional cruxes. At the same time, Tulloch and Gold both see the chorus’s slam poetry sections as a place to stretch the show creatively, in a way that feels fresh, thrilling, and natural.


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Mountain View

Black Comedy review

The new writing on display here is an opportunity to see what student voices in theatre are capable of. With music to underscore the script’s most moving passages, this production aims to be reflective, introspective, and a little bit political. Techno Electra is a play that promises an original take on a classic tragedy whose personal and moral complexities are still able to resonate with contemporary audiences.

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