Thyestes by Derailed Theatre at The Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton

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We made the trip across London to one of our favourite little theatres, The Courtyard, in Hoxton, to see Derailed Theatre’s brand new imagining of Thyestes. Originally by Seneca, this adaptation by Joseph Cunningham transports the action into an oligarchy where Atreus plots the revenge of his brother.

Brilliantly staged at Atreus’ birthday party, the audience sat either side of a long wooden table as the action unfolded around us and on the table, making for a very live piece of theatre. The four actors played the Furies goading and guiding the action and individually they took the parts of Thyestes, Atreus and various attendants.

Director Joseph Cunningham has created a brilliant piece of theatre with this modern interpretation of this classic Greek text. The moments of physical theatre, puppetry, and contemporary music brought this piece kicking and screaming into the 21st century, whilst the tenor of the whole show was overwhelmingly poignant. We particularly liked the use of Bon Iver’s ‘Woods’ as a lullaby.

Guy Woolf portrayed Atreus brilliantly, ranging from manic anger affected with twitches and mad glances to childlike cunning. The final outcome of this show, as with the original Greek version, was understandably dark, and utterly compelling. Charlotte Duffy and Hanako Footman were fantastic as furies and attendants whilst Benedict Hastings was extremely good as the returning brother, Thyestes.

The whole design and aesthetic of this piece was very impressive for a small company. The hanging bulbs created the darkest of birthday parties and the incorporation of feathers into the costumes was inspired. Furthermore the red lights under the tables coupled with the smoke often had us thinking we were looking into the depths of hell.

A really impressive creation from Derailed Theatre, definitely a company to watch out for in the future!

Highlight of the show – the false curtain call – perfect in summing up the madness of Atreus.

WIGS 4/5



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