Review: Aphiemi, Golden Goose Theatre

Vicki Berwick’s Aphiemi reimagines Aeschylus’ The Libation Bearers in Northern Ireland at the Golden Goose Theatre

“Are you still my brother?”

From the entirely epic to the eerily intimate, the Ancient Greeks continue inspire a range of theatrical responses. After the exultant efforts at the Barbican, Aphiemi takes things down to a much smaller scale at Camberwell’s Golden Goose Theatre as writer Vicki Berwick reimagines Aeschylus’ The Libation Bearers in modern-day Northern Ireland.

And rather than a retelling, it is more of a case of ‘inspired by’ the second part of The Oresteia where Electra and Orestes reunite to plot revenge against their mother Clytemnestra. Here, Oliver returns to his family home after 20 years away to tackle the demons of his past, having left behind his younger sister Lainy who is now their mother’s main carer.

Within the confines of a short running time, Berwick dripfeeds the reasons for his self-exile with no small amount of skill, the weight of their tortured family history gradually revealed. And as the reunited siblings talk about, and try to deal with, their damage, they probe their way through to a plan for potential future that might just help them to move on.    

David Frias-Robles’ production for Pathway Theatre makes enterprising use of the space, utilising both intimacy and distance to toy with its emotional impact. And the cast of Simon Grujich, Kelly Long and Claire Lacey play out the developing familial tensions with a gripping sense of the inevitable, even as what unfolds may yet surprise.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Ellamae Cieslik
Aphiemi is booking at the Golden Goose Theatre until 28th May

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