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Review: Kristin Scott Thomas' impassioned Electra at the Old Vic

2658Kristin Scott Thomas takes James McAvoy's impassion five minute speech I watched last week and raises it to full length play.

It is difficult not to be affected by her performance as Electra, the woman who is forced to live, unmarried and childless with her fathers murderers: her mother and her mother's lover. Through an hour and forty minutes she is haunted, mourns, despairs and rails frustrated against those who don't understand her loyalty and faint hope that her brother Orestes (Jack Lowden) will return and enact revenge.

She embodies the predicament of a woman imprisoned in a patriarchal society who is determined to push her 'captors' to the limit. There is nothing left for her but her rebellion, grief and a little hope.

Lowden prooves himself once again a magnetic stage presence and equally Diana Quick as Clytemestra makes her mark during her short appearance. This is a play in which the performances demand you hang on every word.

There is, however, a 'but' to all this. I enjoyed watching the emotionally charged performances, I was moved by the performances but the play left me wanting. Essentially the ending felt a little anti climatic after all that high emotion. Orestes reveals his plan to fake his own death in order to gain entry to his childhood home, duping Electra for a time too and it all goes rather swimmingly. The bloody revenge is performed off stage in the Greek-style and it all felt a little, well, easy after all that angst.

The villain of the piece Aegisthus (Tyrone Huggins) makes a rather doddery appearance and yields easily to Orestes. I didn't quite see the murderous tyrant Electra had made him out to be - are we supposed to think it all a lie or an exaggeration born out of years of grieving? If it we are it seems a little late in the day to plant that seed.

So I have mixed feelings about this production. It is worth seeing for the performances, definitely worth the performances but the story I can take or leave.

Electra runs at the Old Vic until 20 December and is an hour and forty minutes straight through.


Kristin Scott Thomas is an easy link (would love to see her and Mr W in something together) among others she's acted with Hugh Grant who was Mr W's husband in Cloud Atlas and Ralph Fiennes who was in Skyfall.