Phil Willmott

Oresteia coming to Trafalgar Studios

Oresteia I’m absolutely thrilled to hear the Almeida Theatre’s recent production of ORESTEIA is to transfer to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End from 22nd August.

The ancient Greek trilogy of tragedies is arguably one of the most important pieces of drama ever written, dealing, as it does, with the mythical world’s passage from fear and superstition at the mercy of the fickle gods, to peace and civilisation as democracy is established.

If that sounds a bit dry it really isn’t. The past is represented by the warrior Agamemnon’s royal family and they’re a vengeful and bloody lot. Their whole shameful history begins with the king’s sacrifice of his own daughter in payment for a wind from the gods that will power his sailing ships to an invasion of Troy. This key moment is usually reported but the Almeida production places it firmly centre stage.

After the carnage of the Trojan War Agamemnon returns home and his wife takes revenge for her daughter’s death. Her remaining children turn on her, there’s more horror and bloodshed and the son, Orestes, is forced to flee avenging demons until the god Apollo instigates a cunning plan to end the circle of violence.

I directed a huge production of it for Olympic year and it was a popular reminder of the original spirit which founded the games.

The Almeida production is devised by the same team responsible for the current excellent production of 1984 at the Playhouse Theatre and you can expect the same striking use of projection. The cast perform in modern dress bringing an added immediacy to the centuries old tale.

Lia Williams will the join the cast at Trafalgar Studios which also includes Lorna Brown, Jessica Brown Findlay, Annie Firbank, Joshua Higgott, Luke Thompson, Angus Wright and Hara Yannas.

Understandably the Almeida’s associate director, Rupert Goold has said: “that a production of this ambition and intensity can find a commercial life is testament to the sheer modernity of the work and Robert Icke's breath-taking vision.