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'The Oresteia' at HOME - Review

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. My debut poetry pamphlet is available at
Event: -
Battle scars
In the classic Greek drama, The Oresteia, military victory does not bring much domestic peace. Blood-soaked struggles and recriminations pervade the drama by Aeschylus, first produced in 458 BC.

The play narrates the fate of the Atreids, the household of Agamemnon, leader of the Trojan expedition, when he returns to his kingdom, Argos, after 10 years of war.
HOME The Oresteia
Photo by Graeme Cooper

Why stage the The Oresteia now? One reason is, perhaps, to bring modern stage design to this ancient drama. The night begins with the Watchman (Hedydd Dylan) ascending in a chair and introducing us to the story. The use of lighting is particularly atmospheric, particularly when individual characters are lit up against a dark stage.

Originally a trilogy, Blanche McIntyre's production uses Ted Hughes' pacey and rhythmical translation, which condenses the action into under two hours.

The declamatory style in which the characters and chorus (made up of Manchester citizens) speak takes some getting used to for those of us more familiar with the dialogue in modern plays. But the clarity and beauty of Ted Hughes' language entices us to engage with what the protagonists are telling us.
The Oresteia HOME
Photo by Graeme Cooper

The night ends on a tentative note of reconciliation and progress. However, the previous action has taught us that the flame of conflict is always in danger of being reignited. The warnings the play presents us with are as relevant now as they were in 458 BC.
The Oresteia HOME
Photo by Graeme Cooper

There are a number of events taking place at HOME, to bring more insight to The Oresteia, including discussions, talks and tours.
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Why? Poetic translation of ancient play
Phone: 0161 200 1500
Where: HOME, Manchester
Cost: From £10
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