CLASSICAL TRAGEDY The Oresteia
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 27 & Wed 28 Oct
Epic trilogies come and go, but the Oresteia has outlasted them all. Written by the Athenian actor/dramatist Aeschylus around 4608C, this potent tale of fate, duty, guilt and retribution is a foundation of European drama.
During the heyday of Greek theatre, around the 5th century BC, plays were performed at a religious festival: the gods feature in them as agents of justice — and of cruelty. A trilogy of tragedies, accompanied by one comedy, would be presented in the course of a single day. The Oresteia remains the only complete
trilogy surviving from that era.
Who better to direct this marathon of ritual anguish than Romanian theatre legend Silviu Purcarete? His work — at once spectacular and austere — was first seen in Scotland when his version of the Greek tragedy Phaedra came to Glasgow in 1993. Since then there have been several visits, culminating in Les Dana'i'des, also by Aeschylus, for which Purcarete employed well over 100
new shows THEATRE
Expect ritual misery on a grand scale. (Andrew Burnet)
Dream queen: Victoria Woodward as Titania
The gods squad: Silviu Purcarete's Oresteia
7 CLASSICAL TRAGEDY
Glasgow: Citizens’ Circle Studio, Thu 29 Oct—Sat 21 Nov
In a radical move typical of the Citizens’, this large-scale tragedy finds its way onto the cramped space of the Circle Studio. With its cast of six, Medea offers a neat contrast wrth Purcarete's large-scale Oresteia (see above).
This well known Greek myth — originally dramatised by Athenian playwright Euripides around 4308C — was reinterpreted by the Roman poet Seneca in the lst
Clare Venables has translated Seneca's formal verse for this production by Stewart Laing, a frequent guest director/designer at the Citizens', who won a TONY award for his design of the Broadway production, Titanic.
Centring on the eponymous wife of Jason, Medea depicts a bloody series of events. Outraged by her husband’s bigotry, she murders his second Wife and both her own children. A gruesome business, no doubt, but no worse than the fate
which hefell the playwright.
The former tutor of Nero, he became court playwright, but later fell from favour and was required by the emperor to commit surcide. (Andrew Burnet)
SEX POLITICS DRAMA Oleanna
Glasgow: Citizens' Stalls Studio, Wed 28 Oct—Sat 21 Nov
As America’s hottest dramatist grabs headlines by promoting a new range of menswear, his most infamous play comes to style-conscious Glasgow. First performed in 1995 Oleanna is a gripping play which tussles With a thornin topical rSSUe.
Set in an American univerSity, this potent drama begins when a naive,
Menswear: David Mamet
under-achievrng female student accuses her arrogant male tutor of sexual harassment. He faces professional, domestic and personal ruin, but she persists with his accusation As the argument gathers pace, the line between acceptable
behavrour and abuse grows more and more obscure.
At times, it looks like a direct critique of out-of-control political correctness, but Mamet is too smart to fall down on either side of the debate. What is interesting is the way male and female audiences read the play in subtly different ways.
Directed by Robert Davrd MacDonald for the Citizens' company this head-to- head conflict should lead to some fiery post—show debate between the sexes.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Stirling: MacRobert Arts Centre, Tue 27—Sat 3i Oct.
Glasgow: Theatre Royal, Tue 17»— Sat 21 Nov
John Retallack sounds remarkably perky considering the Oxford Stage Company (OSC) threw his leavrng party last night. \.'Vithout a plink-plrnk fizz in earshot, he enthusiastically expoirnds On his final OSC production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which ViSits Scotland twice this autirrrun
Over twenty years runnincr companies (seven with Actor’s Totrrrncr Company, three at Cldharir Rep, ten as OSC's artistic directt’tr‘), Retallack has hirrlt a TODUIE‘IIIHI for crettinc) to the very heart of a play The crginpany's support for new writing and devrsed theatre has been underwritten by a Solidly Successful repertoire of Shakespeare plays. Retallack has heen described as 'one of those directors who wisely allow Shakespeare to do most or the \tvork' That makes it sound easy. 'I have to say think li"~ the most drffrc rrlt Retallack He finds a concept essentral to frnclincr a throzroh Shakmrieare,
Iiitllt] to do,’ i't~rrriters
otlterv/ise tire options are rust too overvdielrriinci "r'r‘tr'd never Irrow how to asl: anycne to plly anythrnc), especially with Cream. There's no character to the lovers They are really one's rnrier nature turned into a character '
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His production aims to touch the audience’s own dreaming life. Lasting Just over two hours, with no interval, it’s an unbroken dream.
It’s also a contemporary musical story about love, in modern, even trendy, dress. 'l've taken the fairies as a place you go when you want to recover from the bruises or conflicts or ecstasies of love, where you can go to be cherished.’
Retallack is moving to London, which opens up possibilities in teaching and writing, as well as directing. ’I think I should launch my own brand,’ he says. 'I would like to get my own company going again, in time, but a smaller more experimental outfit altogether.’ One suspects that a dream is becoming a reality. (Gabe Stewar'tl
THE INVENTION OF FUN
Modern play starring you, some friends and a few bottles of Rolling Rock beer and a pair of dice. Play away.
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