Review of Agamemnon
"Engaging interpretation of Greek classic"
Andrew Taylor for remotegoat on 07/05/11
Agamemnon bristles with tension, as the London Actors Group breathes new life into the classic Greek tragedy by Aeschylus.

The play erupts into action as the Watchman appears behind the audience to witness the beacon being lit to announce the fall of Troy. The action follows the return of Agamemnon, the King to the city of Argos following ten long years of war.

Agamemnon returns to a changed Argos. The chorus, largely comprised of women represents the population of a a city which has lost many of its men to war. As the King returns, bringing with him Cassandra, the seer of Apollo, a whole new raft of problems are thrust upon his house and his relationship with his Queen, Clytemnestra. The play builds to an inevitably bloody and tragic climax.

The performance uses the space in the theatre brilliantly, as actors appear from all directions, often speaking from behind the audience. This gives the audience a feeling of being subsumed and caught in the middle of the unfolding drama.

The chorus are tightly choreographed and powerful in their delivery of key elements of narrative throughout the performance. Director Astrid Vehstedt draws out the tension in the dialogue of the chorus excellently and uses them as a foil to the powerful characters of the key players.

Philip Knight's Agamemnon is forthright, powerful and conflicted. The power of his performance is complemented by the combination Victoria May's imposing interpretation of Clytemnestra and Fiona Graham's turn as the histrionic, troubled seer Cassandra.

A new score by Richard Green adds brooding tension, which enhances the power of the doom laden script brilliantly. Vehstedt's setting utilises the intimate performance space to great effect, thrusting the audience right to the heart of the action.

The combination of the chorus representing the impassioned feelings and views of the people of Argos and the strong performances from the key players gives the play urgency, immediacy and relevance. Reflections by the chorus on the perils of war seem as relevant today as they would have been at the time of writing.

At quiet moments in the performance, sound from the other play taking place at the Courtyard Theatre is audible, which detracts from what is otherwise an extremely powerful and engaging setting of this Greek classic.

Anyone wanting light entertainment or an easy ride, should be warned against Agamemnon as it is heavy and unrelenting. However, if you want to see a strong contemporary delivery of a legendary Greek tale, combining both the doom and tension of the original script with contemporary relevance, then I recommend this highly.