Writer: Steven Berkoff
Director: Tanushka Marah
Reviewer: James Napleton
A whirlwind of war, love and death: Windmill Young Actors’ Agamemnon sees Steven Berkoff’s play performed to fabulous effect.
The play is an adaptation of the work of Greek playwright Aeschylus and it follows the victory and tragic aftermath of the Trojan War as Agamemnon returns home to Greece.
One of the most striking elements of this performance is the visual aesthetic. The opening image is arresting: a single golden spotlight falls on the performers, stood in single file, causing an interplay of light and shadow to augment their features. Music is also a prominent feature, with a diverse range from emotive ambience to Marilyn Manson. The technical choices throughout the performance are excellent, and they help the cast to move from scene to scene quickly and fluidly.
Agamemnon offers a wide repertoire of physical theatre. This truly captures the Berkovian spirit of the play as the performers manipulate the space wonderfully and find interesting and suggestive ways to use their physicality. One scene sees the group use synchronised stamping to create a thumping tribal rhythm, while in another the groups use a sheet to show the body of Iphigenia going limp as she is sacrificed.
This performance is a sensory assault from beginning to end. With the dialogue often barked or chanted at the audience it is difficult to follow the exact plot progression; however, this is remedied by the intensity and emotional depth built into each scene, leading the audience through the play visually. So, the story is not just told by the dialogue but is captured in the very physicality of the players. Physical motifs appear throughout the performance, and the actors use their bodies to express symbolism as the play progresses. In this assault of gestures, words, music and lights that mean the audience is not always sure what exactly is happening in Agamemnon, but they are engrossed regardless.
The individual performances are strong, but the real strength of this performance is the ensemble work, which is drilled and disciplined. This is even more surprising giving the young age of the cast. The quality of the direction can be seen in both the powerful theatrical ideas on display and in the unity and organisation of the performance. Overall, this rigorous and creative performance is a real gem of this year’s Brighton Fringe Festival.
Reviewed on 9 May 2017 at The Warren: Studio 2 | Image: Contributed
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