After my friend and I had recovered from the excitement of seeing Jude Law in the Old Vic foyer, we settled down to watch Sophocles’ Electra starring Kristen Scott Thomas in the title role. Despite being stuck on the top with a restricted view, both of us enjoyed Ian Rickson’s production, which used Frank McGuinness’s energetic, colloquial translation.
With minimal set and old-fashioned, but not over the top, costumes, the production suggested the Greek setting of the original without cluttering the performances. I liked Thomas’ take on the main character, giving her humanity and sympathy as well as passion and anger. I also enjoyed the supporting performances, particularly those of Diana Quick (Clytemnestra) and Jack Lowden (Orestes). The play raises some interesting moral questions – is Clytemnestra truly the villain of the piece, or is she simply acting out of revenge just as Electra is?
While modern adaptations of classical drama can work very well, I sometimes find they distract me from the universal themes and characters inherent in the work.. This production is one of my favourites, as I was able to completely concentrate on the play as a whole.