(Mark Fisher’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/3.)
It usually feels like a handicap that the Greeks kept all the gory action off stage, but when you see the slaughter of George Anton’s Agamemnon in Zinnie Harris’s sinewy reworking of The Oresteia, you have some sympathy for their restraint. Fresh out of the bath, stark naked and lacerated from head to toe, Anton writhes and flounders around the stage at the mercy of Pauline Knowles’s knife-wielding Clytemnestra until she inflicts the fatal wound. It’s not a pretty sight.
Nor does Harris intend it to be. She makes it plain that the stakes are high and this is a Clytemnestra who knows exactly what she wants. Despite having numbed herself with drink for the 10 years of her husband’s absence, the queen has absolute clarity when it comes to revenge. Her rage at his sacrificial killing of their daughter Iphigenia is absolute.