Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hecuba - Donmar Warehouse 09.09.2004 - 13.11.2004

....The play begins with the entrance of Eddie Redmayne as the murdered son of Hecuba, Polydorus. The shock of Redmayne's appearance is as tangible as a lightning bolt through an audience which is stunned into wide-mouthed disbelief and wonder. Suffice to say this performance truly is magical. Redmayne delivers his sorrowful tale with ethereal grace as he strokes the surface of the sea. His bitter account of betrayal and murder told with benign simplicity and other-worldly resignation. Redmayne is present for most of the drama as it unfolds.
Even in death his handsome youthfulness dominates the stage. ( x )

Euripides: Hecuba (new version by Frank McGuinness)
I am Polydorus, son of Hecuba.
Priam is my father.
I am dead.
I come from that darkness -
The abyss, the gates of godless hell.
Son of Hecuba,
Priam is my father -
He sent me from Troy,
Besieged by the Greeks;
Fearing the fall of Troy,
He secreted me
Away to Thrace,
To the home of his friend,
Polymestor, old friend
Who ploughs this fertile land,
Who rules its horsemen.
My father did with me
A hoard of gold.
Should the walls of Troy fall,
His children would not want.
I was Priam's youngest son.
The runt with no spear,
The arm without armour,
That's why he sped me
In secret from my home.

The war went our way -
The city was not shafted -
The towers did not break,
Troy, towers of Troy,
And my brother Hector,
He won the lucky day.
Then I was the pet, the pup,
Fawned on by my father's friends,
Honoured guest in Thrace,
Though my pampered heart ached.
Then Troy fell, destroyed,
And so too did Hector.
My father's hearth smashed,
Razed to the ground,
He too turn to dust,
At the altars our gods built,
Slaughtered by Achilles' son,
His dirty blood hand.
My father's friend killed me,
His friend killed myself.
He did it for the gold.
I had none to defend me.
He kicked my corpse,
Kicked it into the ocean.
He did it for the gold,
To keep it in his house.
Times I lie on the shore,
Times I roll in the sea's swell,
The water's ebb and flow,
No to mourn me,
No to bury me.

Now I leave my corps,
I fly above Hecuba,
My mother - three days,
The same days since she,
My heart-sore mother,
Came to this alien land,
From Troy - Troy.
The Greeks and their ships,
They sit idle in Thrace.
Achilles' ghost has appeared
Above his tomb.
He's halted the army's sails
as they steered the sea to home.
He desires my sister,
He asks for Polyxena,
He wants her as his sacrifice,
Her life for his honour.
He'll get what he craves -
His cronies will see to that.
My sister will die today.
That is sealed and settled.
My mother shall look down,

I couldn't find the end of Polydorus's part in Frank McGuinness version. 
The end translated by Jay Kardan & Laura-Gray Street:
...And my mother 
will see two corpses of two children: mine and Polyxena’s.
My body will wash up in the surf so she can bury me
properly. I begged this crumb of Hades, and it was granted. 
But for now I’ll get out of the way. See how Hecuba
stumbles from the doorway of Agamemnon’s tent,
upset by nightmares and visions of my ghost.
Alas! Old mother, your royal palaces are reduced to meager
corners in another ruler’s tents. How poorly you fare
—as poorly as you once fared well. To balance out
your past prosperity, some god has ruined you.

photos source (and more photos): gallery
one more photo here

British Theatre Guide review here
The Stage review here
What's On Stage review here

(full review by Kevin Quarmby)
....Frank McGuinness has translated the horrific tragedy of Hecuba with such integrity, such subtlety of language, that this two thousand four hundred year old play screams its message of terror and revenge with the same power, the same energy, as if its mythology were as fresh and new as our own personal experience.
....It is the aftermath of the Greek defeat of the Trojans. A victorious army are desperate to set sail for home, but the ghost of the fallen hero, Achill es, is seen to hold the ships in port. Their release will be granted with the sacrifice of a princess of Troy , Polyxena, the young virgin daughter of the dethroned Hecuba, Queen of Troy. Hecuba has lost her husband and eldest son. All she has left, as she huddles in the caves near the shore with the other widowed and grieving Trojan women, is the daughter she adores and the hope that her young son, Polydorus, is safe with his friend the King of Thrace.
Clare Higgins gives the performance of a lifetime as Hecuba, the anti-heroine of this surprisingly feminist classical play. There is no weakness here. No resignation that the fates are ruling her destiny. She may be treated lower than a slave, like a dog, by her captors, but Hecuba has all the survival instinct of a regal cornered animal.

Clare Higgins won her 3rd Laurence Olivier Award for this role. (Wikipedia)

Hecuba Theatre photosession by Grant Scott - 
these are cropped images, the original photos are here

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