Jethro Compton has racked up so many stars in his Fringe career that he may legitimately be called a galaxy and it is with great pleasure that I add a further five. His reworking of the most gruesome, bloody tragedy of ancient Greece is sensitive, touching, and humourous. Not words that usually spring to mind about the Agamemnon, yet this can hardly be classed as ‘classic’ tragedy.
Staged in a WWI bunker constructed from scratch within a C Nova studio, Agamemnon is reimagined as a British officer dying from a gunshot wound. We follow his tortured visions of what may be happening at home, wracked with guilt for abandoning his wife. The author, Jamie Wilkes, crosses his adaptation with the original in only the briefest of moments and totally inverts the motivations of the characters. Aeschylus is characterised by grandiloquence and loftiness; Wilkes evokes a truly moving naturalism.
In a move away from archetypical grand tragedy, we are presented with intense, intimate, immersive drama. The performances were spot-on, bringing to life deep, sympathetic characters that are a far cry from the monsters created by Aeschylus. Particular mention goes to Serena Manteghi as (unnamed) Clytemnestra, whose performance was as gorgeous as it was captivating. I actually forgot how to breathe during Agamemnon’s ‘reunion’ with his wife.
The set is stunning. Trench benches line the dirtied, earthen walls and a misty haze coils about the dim lamps. Complementing the set is the lighting and sound design, conjuring beautiful, haunting images.
This is an absolute must-see. Accessible for those who know the Agamemnon inside-out and for those to whom it is all Greek, it would be foolish to miss such a marvellous, unique experience.