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Electra

Published 2 October 2014

What’s it all about?

Revenge. Electra’s father Agamemnon has been murdered by his wife’s new lover Aegisthus. Years on, still stricken with grief, she prowls around the palace courtyard in a debilitating state of rage and misery. When she hears of her brother Orestes’ death she plunges even deeper into despair, until the man who comes bearing her sibling’s ‘ashes’ reveals his true identity and they finally get justice for their father.

Who’s in it?

This is Kristin Scott Thomas at her best. Stubborn and sarcastic, miserable and enraged, her Electra is a powerful presence on the Old Vic’s stage, especially with the auditorium in-the-round. Viewed from all angles, Scott Thomas’ performance becomes even more vibrant in the scenes she shares with Jack Lowden’s Orestes, when her sniffling and restlessness transforms into childlike glee, embracing him like a mother reunited with her child. Lowden’s finest moments come during Electra’s speech to her ‘dead’ brother, his reactions combining guilt and distress with a hint of humour. There is good support, also, from Diana Quick as their fated mother and Peter Wight as Orestes’ partner in crime.

What should I look out for?

Keep your ear out for snippets of comedy and sarcasm that endow Frank McGuinness’ take on Sophocles’ tragedy with a unique wit and vitality. Scott Thomas and Lowden, the two Olivier Award-winning actors tasked with delivering most of his script, perform superbly, particularly Lowden’s line: “I don’t want to limit your happiness, but it’s too great – You’re frightening me.”

In a nutshell?

In the words of Oasis, she’s electric… as Electra. All eyes are on Kristin Scott Thomas as she gives a heartbreaking and surprisingly witty portrayal of Sophocles’ Greek heroine.

Who was in the press night crowd?

For the second time in a week – we think he might be stalking us – we were sitting next to Scott Thomas and Lowden’s fellow Olivier Award winner Andrew Scott. Bill Nighy, catching up on the London theatre scene following his recent performance in Skylight, and Breeders director Tamara Harvey were also in the audience.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@Helen_Wickedit Frank McGuinness’s version of Electra @oldvictheatre absolutely beautiful … With music by PJ Harvey and Kristin Scott Thomas is a genius

Will I like it?

Fans of Greek tragedy are being spoilt for choice in 2014/15 with the National Theatre’s recent hit Medea, starring Helen McCrory, and the Barbican’s forthcoming take on Antigone in which Juliette Binoche takes the title role. But if there’s one Greek tragedy you should definitely add to your list, it’s this one. Reuniting Scott Thomas with director Ian Rickson, who have been an unstoppable theatrical force in recent years, the Old Vic production is so compelling you don’t even notice the hour and 40 minute running time pass by.

Electra is playing at the Old Vic until 20 December. You can book tickets through us.

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