Beautiful acting trumps gore and gunshots in this update of a greek classic.

Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney
March 19, 2015

It’s a common theatrical gambit: relocate a classic play to a contemporary setting and in doing so highlight the innate and timeless resonances these ancient works of drama share with our modern lives. Sometimes this strategy can yield fabulous results: recent triumphs include Bell Shakespeare’s Helpmann Award-winning Henry V, set in a 1940’s classroom during the Second World War, or State Theatre of South Australia’s Othello, which draws upon the recent conflict and army engagement in the Middle East as its setting. However Jada Alberts’ and Anne-Louise Sarks’ reimagining of the archetypal Greek tragedy Elektra not only transplants the action to a modern domestic setting, but also updates the dialogue, swapping the epic verse of Sophocles for a colloquial, informal and at times, unflinchingly gritty modern script.

The bare bones of the original story remain intact: Elektra (Katherin Tonkin) is bent on avenging her father’s murder, while harbouring the secret location of her brother Orestes (Hunter Page-Lochard), spirited away eight years previously following her father’s death. Elektra’s patricidal mother, Klytemnestra (Linda Cropper), her adulterous lover Aegisthus (Ben Winspear), and Elektra’s...