Short and intense, Carrie Cracknell’s production of Sophocles’ tragedy doesn’t stint on tears or emotion.
Holly Waddington’s design splits the audience, funnelling the actors into a long, bleak corridor of misery and suffering where, later, a frenzied Electra claws at the grave of her father Agamemnon, murdered ten years previously by Clytemnestra, his wife.
She had her reasons – he sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia to the gods in exchange for a fair wind to Troy – but there’ll be no peace for Electra or for her long-lost brother Orestes until their father’s death, too, has been avenged.
Nick Payne (a Most Promising Playwright award winner in 2009) provides a powerful new version which never lets up on the misery, and Cath Whitefield gives everything as the anguished Electra, haunted by visions of her younger self and unswayed by the calm reasoning of Madeleine Potter’s Clytemnestra or the cautious warnings of her surviving sister.
Brief, blacked out scenes are punctuated by the sounds of footsteps and running water, an indelible stain is a constant reminder of spilt blood, and, immersive though it is, it’s a relief when the cycle is finally complete and, leaving this unhappy household of Ancient Greece behind, you return to the everyday bustle of Notting Hill.
Gate, Pembridge Road W11 3HQ
Tube: Notting Hill Gate
020 7229 0706
Until May 14
– Louise Kingsley