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Oresteia: This Restless House

Royal Lyceum Theatre
Five stars

When Zinnie Harris's three part reimagining of Aeschyus' epochal family tragedy first appeared in Dominic Hill's production at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow in 2016, its scale in terms of staging and imaginative breadth was stunning. More than a year on, this Edinburgh International Festival revival of the Citz's production in association with the National Theatre of Scotland is an even more expansive experience.

This may be partly to do with its condensing of the three plays into one four and a half hour sitting. Largely, however, it is to do with the sheer bravura of the exercise, which sees generations of damaged goods wrestle with the hand-me-down baggage they've slaughtered their way into. From the moment Pauline Knowles' vivacious Clytemnestra vamps her way into the crumbling working men's club that passes for a palace where a Last of the Summer Wine style chorus holds court, the tone is set for a discordant psycho-sexual morass of revenge killings.

Clytemnestra clings to her dead daughter Iphigenia for strength as much as her own sanity as she enacts revenge on George Anton's all-conquering Agamemnon. The second part is even more manic, as Olivia Morgan's neuroses ridden daddy's girl Electra squares up to her mother. The final part lurches into even deeper waters, as Electra's troubled psychiatrist Audrey faces up to demons of her own.

This is played out on Colin Richmond's dilapidated set, littered with musical detritus with which the cast smash, crash and bash out Nikola Kodjabashia's banshee-like live score. As generic boundaries collapse into each other, this becomes a thrilling howl of a play that never flinches from the extremes that sired it into harrowing life.

The Herald, August 25th 2017

ends

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