16 October 2005

Orestes at the Oxford Playhouse. There must be all kinds of allowances for the young performers, some of whom were indeed talented and game. Have to say, though, the directorial ideas were very limited, the staging was a mess, some of the casting decisions were dubious: Electra was twice the size of her brother; Pylades' first entrance was not exactly menacing, as required, but rather camp. And so on. But still the play came through, as a work of such shining genius can never be entirely obscured by its interpreters. There were some decent things, too - I liked the chorus, for instance, better than the one for Prometheus Bound. And there were moments when the speech took off into the operatic, as the characters sang to eerie accompaniment. Went along with Sally W, who lives near Oxford. She knew little of Euripides before, and I'm afraid her first experience of the father of modern drama made him seem as present and enticing as a 25 centuries' old piece of cheese.
We had a nice drink in the Eagle and Child, after - Tolkien's pub. Still haven't read a word or seen a minute of those films.

Earlier, I'd walked up to Lady Margaret Hall, my old college. It was dusk and the porter was about to lock the gates to the gardens, so I wandered the corridors instead, taking in some of the atmosphere of the first week of the academic year. Despite some innovations - the banks of flatscreen monitors in the library, the hi-tech security doors - the place is the same. I looked up, as I usually do, at the window of the room where I lived in my first year, next door to James Allen (now a Formula One commentator for the telly), and down the way from Michael Gove (MP). The choir were singing in the chapel, a notice in chalk informed me the rugby 1st XI had won. It may well have been the women's 1st XI, it being LMH, a women's college until 1978 and with still I believe more or less a 50-50 gender ratio.

Before I forget, I heard Professor Judith Mossman lecture at the Playhouse, before the show. Prof JM is a brilliant Euripides scholar, and she talked about the ways Eur manipulated the expectations of his original audience with his startling reversals and reworkings of myth. It was great to hear her, she's a very engaging speaker. She was teaching at Oxford when I was a student, and probably gave lectures, but as the things were never compulsory of course I hardly ever got my sorry skinny ass out of bed for them.

And finally today... this. When blogs collide. And very pleasant it was too.

4 comments:

David said...

Some of my students went last week, too, and said the surtitles were almost illegible — blurred and indistinct. I missed the production. Sad when something as great as this doesn't come off.

sbs said...

The surtitles were legible, but the translation shocking. Conveyed next to nothing of the sharpness of the dialogue, the poetry, anything. It was more of a running commentary, or summary of what was being said.

Disappointing, then. But still glad, on reflection, that they had a go. And the performers must've worked very hard to memorise all that Greek...

Anonymous said...

And congratulations to the LMH 1st XI who did particularly well considering they were presumably up against someone else's 1st XV...

sbs said...

oh alright smartypants. footballs are round where i come from, is all. :)