Dumbwise’s Electra fills London’s Bunker Theatre with plenty of noise but struggles with its mix of old and new
The ambition behind actor-musician company DumbWise’s Electra is unquestionable as they introduce a “live punk-rock score” to their dynamic adaptation. The reality is a tad murkier as the old smashes up against the new with sometimes messy results.
John Ward serves as both adaptor and director and you wonder if a fresh set of eyes might have help to wrangle this further into shape. Ward has taken elements of both Euripides and Sophocles’ versions of the Greek myth and added in a framework of contemporary references, but punk-like energy is hard to sustain as you approach your third hour, still referring to the gods.
An enthusiastic company make big strides into conveying this raw sense of energy. Lydia Larson (so memorable in Skin A Cat here in 2016) is fiercely self-possessed as a brattish Electra, Dario Coates’ Orestes impresses in his burning vengeance and Sian Martin invests Clytemnestra with more depth than Ward would seem to allow in the script.
But the enduring presence of the gods in this modern reading is a circle that is never squared, the potential intrigue of its revolutionary politics are hampered by the reliance on a hero (fresh from the fight), and not even the raucous live music can stop the storytelling from dragging.