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July 2010

That was Here, but I'm not sure where it was (Sky Arts Playhouse Live)

Well Here by Eve Ensler will certainly go down as the most perplexing play in the Sky Arts Playhouse Live season at the Riverside Studio.

It started promisingly. A middle-aged couple sitting at home having one of those inane conversations two people have when they've lived together a long time when a young couple walk in and claim to be finally home.

Ooh it's all very allegorical, thought I, as I strained to see the action around the one tall person in the audience I always manage to sit behind. The younger couple have been travelling, footloose and fancy free is the implication, and the wife thinks they look a bit like her and her husband, or younger versions.

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Elektra at the Young Vic (and it was free!)

Elektra-new_6_wide Greek Gods were my favourite bit of RE at school - they were far more interesting to me as 12/13 year old than the bible which is the only other thing we studied. The Gods were far more colourful and seemed more human to me somehow with their jealousy, anger, hatred, passion and love.

Greek tragedies have a similar appeal but now with the added realisation that they have subsequently influenced so many writers and are still being interpreted today. And Elektra is just one example, this time being retold through the eyes of poet and professor of classics Anne Carson.

Elektra is one of three surviving children of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra (glad we didn't learn about them in school - can you imagine the spelling challenge?). Elektra is kept at home with her sister Chrysothemis by her mother and her mother's lover Aegisthus who both murdered Agamemnon. Her brother Orestes escaped to safety.

While Chrysothemis has accepted the situation the best she can, Elektra is grief stricken and broods on revenge (traces of Hamlet?). Her only hope is that Orestes will return and do the deed thus releasing her.

*Plot spoilers* Luckily for Elektra but unknown to her, Orestes is planning to do just that. He sends a messenger ahead supposedly heralding his death in a chariot-racing accident (cue mother quite relieved the potentially vengeful son is out the way) and he will then follow on, unrecognised by years away, gaining access to the palace by being the bearer of evidence of his own death in the form of a casket of ashes.

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My first ever rehearsed reading* and one to look out for

All thanks to @polyg, I got to go and see my first ever rehearsed reading last Friday. It was for a play called The Lost Mariner by Nick Payne as part of Royal Court's rough cuts season in the Jerwood Upstairs.

As I discovered, a rehearsed reading is a run-through, with real actors, scripts in hand, of a work in progress. It was 40-minutes long and absolutely terrific. Only the presence of the scripts and page-turning made it feel any different to a fully formed production. 

The play was about a man, Jimmy, who believes it is still 1995 and has short term memory loss. While he can't remember things like being asked to hold a carrot moments earlier only to be surprised to find it in his hand, he also doesn't recognise his 15-years-older son and wife.

His family do everything they can to try and trigger some sort of memory and struggle to cope with this unintentionally cruel form of rejection.

It was both funny and moving and I left wanting more. I'm curious to see how it evolves into a fuller play and I'll certainly be keeping an eye for it in the future.

* I've subsequently discovered from @sjc_home4tea that the Caryl Churchill readings I went to at the Royal Court in 2008 are technically rehearsed readings. So this counts as my first rehearsed reading of a play in progress.

Theatre-tastic weekend ahead

It's a triple-bill of theatre this weekend - thank goodness I have next week off to recover.

First up is a rehearsed reading of new play in progress The Lost Mariner at the Royal Court. I've not been to a proper rehearsed reading before just a read through of an older play (Ben Whishaw took part in that one, hence why I went!) so I'm quite excited about what this one is going to be like. My theatre buddy Poly recommended it - you never know which actors you are going to get she says.

Afterwards there is a literary ball in the cafe bar which also sounds intriguing. Not quite sure what to expect there. 

Then on Saturday it's Elektra at the Young Vic which, rather bizarrely, is free. Not that I'm complaining. It's based on the Sophocles story of which I know nothing. I only know of the Sophocles link because of what it says on the Young Vic site but that has never stopped me seeing a play before.

And finally on Sunday it's the last in the Sky Arts Playhouse season, Here, at the Riverside Studios. It sounds a bit surreal from the synopsis which could be interesting. There's been a real variety of plays in the series, all good in their own way.