Oresteia premiered at the Dionysia Festival in Athens in 458 BC. Now it’s been called one of “the year’s theatrical sensations” by The Guardian’s Charlotte Higgins…well Robert Ickes’ contemporary re-working of the Aeschylus’ trilogy of Ancient Greek tragedies, which had its summer season at London’s small Almeida Theatre has been given that accolade, because it has now deservedly transferred to the West End. In the director’s own words, “it’s the mother of the violent family drama…and feels increasingly like the precursor of The Sopranos.” Playing the Trafalgar Studios for a limited season until November, the story revolves around the usual Greek family drama tragedy themes, murder, revenge and retribution. The plot sees the titular character Orestes and his sister Electra (or Elektra as some care to spell it ), plotting revenge against their mother and stepfather for the murder of their father. Sound familiar? After a short, but acclaimed screen career, twenty-five year-old British actress Jessica Brown Findlay made her stage debut as the ‘gutsy’ sis.
I read in all her recent interviews that Jessica doesn’t like to be referred to as a Downton Abbey actress, so I won’t and I didn’t mention it when she signed this Electra sketch for me at the Trafalgar’s stage door on Saturday. Oh and as a postscript, the play won first prize in the Dionysia Festival in Athens way back in 458 BC, and this production looks like it might garner some awards of it’s own.