Thursday, 16 February 2012

Review in The Times

Tragicomic Performance Hippolytus was anything but cheerful. Blood all over the place. But what a performance! I’ve hardly read Euripides and never seen his work staged, but Ann Carson’s translation was thrillingly vernacular and the UCL Classical Drama Society’s production explosive. Like so much classical stuff it’s all about sex and violence: Aphrodite’s revenge on the young man who wants purity more than her body. The wicked goddess fills his stepmother with desire for him, driving her to suicide and inflaming his father with rage. And boy, is the son’s ending violent, dragged across the rocks by his own horses. Among powerful performances by Eleanor Wright (The Nurse) and Rohan Pai (the messenger), both wonderfully natural, Charlie Satow really stood out as Hippolytus. It’s curious to watch a player teetering on the cusp (as Laurence Olivier sometimes did) between sheer brilliance and ham. With Satow you were at one moment gripped by his passionate innocence, sincerity and lovely poetic diction… and the next stifling a giggle at one convulsion too many in his death throes, whispering “don’t overact” and feeling sneaking sympathy for Aphrodite’s impatience with his whinnying self righteousness. But a great performance by Satow, a great play and, in a rather different way from the White Swan, a great night. - Matthew Parris, The Times, p26, 16/02/12.

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