Review: Agamemnon

“Tim Benjamin's original score ... provided a visceral pulse to the on-stage action ... an utterly entrancing experience”

The Cherwell, October 2008
The Greek Play at Oxford Playhouse, 8th October 2008

... Traditional the style may be, but it is far from archaic. Inspired by the modern dance-style of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, choreographer Jessica Bland has successfully mastered an eerie and captivating mode of storytelling. The dancers’ elegant movements were strange and beautiful, physically underlining the chorus narration of the sacrifice of Iphigenia; a mesmerising moment, accentuated by flowing fabric.

The sombre, discordant notes of Tim Benjamin’s original score, combined with an under-riding drum beat, provide a visceral pulse to the on-stage action. It is this fusion of drama, music and dance whihc superbly realises the plays ancient Greek heritage, and makes for an utterly entrancing experience. The choral odes, sung by six male vocalists, are haunting, almost monastic chants, which combine rich bass notes with a penetrating counter-tenor line, drawing inspiration from choral evensong and the Byzantine tradition.

The actors, dancers and musicians achieved a lucidity of storytelling which was truly laudable, rendering the tragedy, the pathos, and the beauty of the tale extremely authentic, but more significantly, extremely accessible. It is both ancient and contemporary: an exercise in the potential of classical theatre, proving it to be far from an antiquated art form.

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