Edinburgh Showcase 2017: ‘Oresteia: This Restless House’ by Citizens Theatre

Edinburgh Showcase 2017: ‘Oresteia: This Restless House’ by Citizens Theatre


The theatre was named the Citizens Theatre when it
moved to it’s current location seventy years ago by the playwright James Bridie and his idea was that it would be a theatre for all of Glasgow and that sense of it being kind of accessible to everybody is very much the heart of what we do. ‘This Restless House’ is an adaptation of Aeschlyus’s ‘The Oresteia’ by Zinnie Harris and it takes that original story, the story of Agamemnon coming
home from the Trojan war and being murdered by his wife in revenge for the death of their child, earlier and then consequently the daughter taking revenge on her mother. So it tells that story within a modern context and very much looking at the idea of revenge and forgiveness. Dominic and I were looking for a big, epic
project to do together. I think we both had a kind of resonance with the original but also felt that there was enough room to revisit and reinterpret. I think when you approach an adaptation you have to have two things that work. One is a love of the original but
also a sense that actually in revisiting it you can bring something that will speak to a modern audience and that was very much the case with this project. Clytemnestra is this wife who has been left behind while her husband went off to war. The last thing he did before he left was to sacrifice their daughter and the first thing that she does when he comes back is to kill him and I think the kind of received Clytemnestra that we had been given and are handed by Aeschlyus is that she is already evil and she is this
kind of Lady Macbeth-type figure. It feels modern but I think it also has
a kind of timelessness to it, We put these plays on now because
they in a way are distanced from us because we don’t have to say, this is taking place in London or Paris or even modern Athens they can create in a world that is just a theatre space that that means that they can exist forever really. I worked quite closely with a friend of mine who is a psychiatrist and particularly works with children and also is a Freudian analyst and he was very much someone that I would speak to quite a lot as I was working on it but also I was reading quite a lot about analysis and also you know I think your experience as a person, as a mother and you know, certainly as a playwright come to bare, so there’s lots of observations that I have made, certainly in terms of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, there’s quite a lot of my kind of feelings about marriages that go wrong, and also Clytemnestra’s profound love for a child, so I think you’re doing a mixture as a playwright. You’re kind of partly bringing your personality and your own experience but also you’re actively going and seeking help where you think you need it.

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