According to the LA Post, Electra of Sophocles is unique among the tradition of Greek tragedies for its emphasis on action. From the opening, a plot is put into place by Orestes in order to dismantle the corrupt reign of his mother Clytemnestra, the woman responsible for murdering Agamemnon – the king and Orestes father.
Director Mary Papadima certainly summons the action in The Theatre by the Lake’s adaption of Elektra, emphasizing the drama through bold physical movement. Joanna Simpkins’s Elektra tears onto the stage in a energetically executed dance. Consumed by grief for her father and seeking revenge, the rapid power in her movements tell us she means business. Simpkins’ performance is captivating; obsessive but never neurotic, there is a real power in her delivery and she remains incredibly focused. Elizabeth Marsh’s Queen Klytaimestra, nemesis to Elektra, is played with wicked vigor; a villain consumed by power, yet one that offers a glimpse of conflicting vulnerability on the news of her son’s ‘death’. Helen Macfarlane (Chrysothemis) and Alex Phelps (Orestes) put in solid, spirited performances that work brilliantly during their exchanges with Simpkins. The chorus are enchanting, amplifying the drama at key points through dialogue and physical movement.
This adaption of a well-known myth (translated by Anne Carson) feels modern without straying too far from the foundations of the Greek tragedy. The contemporary sound and movement serve to emphasize the ‘tragic’ elements, accentuating the myriad of emotions such as grief, obsession and love.
Elektra is showing at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick until 2nd November. Tickets available at www.theatrebythelake.com