Monday, 21 October 2013

Hecuba

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 

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