Dundee Rep Four stars In a bombed-out wasteland, the body laid out among the rubble looks set to live on as the clamour of warfare sounds out inbetween the voices of contemporary apologists for war. It's the dead that speak first, however, as the slain Polydorus comes crawling from the wreckage in Amanda Gaughan's up close and personal production of Frank McGuinness' pared down version of Euripides' post Trojan War anti-conflict classic. It's the image of the dead that stand out overall, in fact, as Irene Macdougall's electrifying Hecuba rises up against those who sacrificed her daughter Polyxena and murdered her son in a tit for tat revenge killing that will either provoke further reprisals or else end all wars forever. While history has shown how things have actually worked out in that respect time and again, Gaughan goes for the jugular, with the actors unleashed onto Leila Kalbassi's broken breeze-block styled set like a battered nation in mourning and rebellion. Macdougall in particular gives a fearless and unflinching portrait of a woman so churned up by anger and loss that she has nothing left to lose. Ali Craig as the blinded Polymestor and Callum O'Neill as Agamemnon both provide charismatic counterpoint to Macdougall's vengeful queen. One of the most striking features of the production is its musicality, with Emily Winter's solo Chorus joining forces with the ghosts of Caroline Deyga's Polyxena and Ncuti Gatwa's Polydorus to sing their anthem of revenge as a round set to Claire McKenzie's fractured, subterranean score. While early talk of Troy's twin towers being razed has very obvious parallels with 9/11, in the end there's a timeless universality about the play that cuts straight to its human heart.
The Herald, October 21st 2013 ends