Preview: This Restless House
Zinnie Harris and Dominic Hill delve into the chaos of family life
Although inspired by Aeschylus’ ancient tragic trilogy The Oresteia, Zinnie Harris has written a thoroughly contemporary version of the bloody tale of the House of Atreus. Focussing on female characters, her script translates the abstract themes of family conflict from ancient Greek into a recognisable modern context.
While Aeschylus displayed a power struggle that reasserts male royal power, Harris is concerned with how her characters deal with crisis. Clytemnestra, for example, is a melodramatic villainess in The Oresteia, but, Harris says her journey is how she goes from someone like me to someone who murders her husband. She doesn’t want to do it!’
Rather than imitating a classic, Harris recognises the importance of making the story relatable. ‘You have to feel that you can bring something to it. One has got to come at it with your own dramatic interpretation,’ she says. With Dominic Hill directing – having worked with Harris previously – the distinctive qualities of his approach promise an immediate, exciting and relevant vision of a story dulled by familiarity and reverence.
‘Aeschylus is working in archetypes,’ she continues. ‘But there is this family who have just been blown apart by the father who put the decision to go to war over being a dad. We have this small family group trying to work out a way to get over it.’ Blending psychology, a distinctive visual theatre aesthetic and huge questions about coping and morality. This Restless House reimagines past mythology as an exploration of social, familial and emotional violence.
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow until Sat 14 May.