JOYCE MCMILLAN on ANDROMAQUE at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 4.7.15.

4 stars ****

IT TAKE PLENTY OF RISKS, the 45-minute version of Racine’s great 17th century tragedy Andromaque that marks the end of this year’s Play, Pie And Pint summer season of classic cuts.  It not only takes Racine’s mighty drama  – about the widow of the Trojan hero Hector, how she becomes victim of the vengeful sexual obsession of the Greek warrior Pyrrhus, and the furious  response of Pyrrhus’s abandoned fiancee, Hermione – and transforms it into a ferocious double monologue for the two women, performed as if under police interrogation.  It also rips the story out of time, and gives it a powerful contemporary Irish voice, changing the names of the men to the short, brusque monikers of gang leaders and urban terrorists, and shortening Racine’s famous flowing Alexandrine lines to eight-syllable phrases full of stylised Irish inversions – “Hard, he punched me then, and out of the door I threw it. “

If the stakes are high, though, Graham McLaren simple, stark production – with terrific light by James Gardner, and Hermione in a breathtakingly blood-smeared wedding-dress – is more than equal to the challenge of Poet’s script.  And the secret of its success likes in two magnificent performance from Rebecca Rodger as Andromaque, and Lucianne McEvoy as Hermione; the one hardened by hate but terrified for her young son, and the other young, ruthless, passionate and terrifying, as she first demands Pyrrhus’s death in vengeance, then mourns him with a terrible rage, and finally, unforgettably, requires that her captors let her go, like the hard-headed princess she is.

Oran Mor, Glasgow, final performance today.



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