Yukio Ninagawa: “The Greeks” (Screencaps #2)

Following my review of Yukio Ninagawa’s The Greeks, this post contains screencaps from The Murders, which includes “Hecuba,” “Agamemnon” and “Electra.” Read on for sixty screencaps!

Hecuba (Euripides)

Unfortunately for those of us who like ghosts in our theatre, this version of “Hecuba” does not begin with the ghost of Polydorus. Instead, Polyxena (Ayako Kawamoto) makes her second appearance, after having been given a few lines in “The Trojan Women.” Here she describes the situation she’s facing. Her dress is a little ridiculous but I love it.

Hecuba (Misako Watanabe), Polyxena and the chorus in the background, Odysseus (Takashi Fujiki) standing in the foreground.

Odysseus in The Greeks is reduced to a small and fairly uninteresting role, but I do like his pose here, when Polyxena is accusing him of being afraid to touch her.

Polyxena speaking to Odysseus.

Hecuba and Polyxena say good-bye. Four plays in and this is the fifth time a parent has had to send a child off to their death. Welcome to Greek tragedy?

I really like Watanabe’s Hecuba. She seems like she would be a sweet and kindly grandmother but at the same time is convincing in her desire for revenge. Which is also what I love about this play – Hecuba is a perfectly proper queen and mother until she’s pushed past her breaking point and decides it’s time to claw someone’s eyes out.

Agamemnon (Mikijiro Hira) arrives and I love his outfit here. That netted top layer is basically foreshadowing!!

Hecuba showing Agamemnon what remains of her son Polydorus.

Polymestor (Shunta Fuchino) arrives with his son. I really enjoy how “Hecuba” has three important characters whose names all start the same way.

After Hecuba gets her revenge, Polymestor foretells her transformation into a dog. Before Hecuba exits, she bites part of Agamemnon’s costume and then runs to the edge of the stage and howls. This is weird? But I like it?

Unnerved by what Polymestor foretold for him, Agamemnon runs to Cassandra (Tomoko Nakajima, who has been sitting at the edge of the stage) and demands to know what she sees. Cassandra isn’t in Euripides’ “Hecuba”; this is another change The Greeks makes.

At first Cassandra refuses to speak, knowing Agamemnon won’t believe her. When he insists, she explains why she is able to see the future, then tells Agamemnon’s. In response, he laughs and says it’s time to go home, where everything will be fine.

Agamemnon (Aeschylus)

“Agamemnon” begins with the chorus sewing the large cloths you can see them sitting on above. Note that the chorus is always female, even when they were male in the original tragedy. Clytemnestra (Kayoko Shiraishi) enters to tell them the war is over.

Clytemnestra, with the old man (Tetsuo Takase) behind her. Takase plays the old man in every play that calls for an old man, so he’s actually onstage a fair bit!

Talthybius (Takahisa Nishikibe) is happy to be home.

Agamemnon and Cassandra arrive in a chariot pulled by Trojan slaves.

Agamemnon is also happy to be home.

The first time I watched this, I was worried that Ninagawa’s minimalist set design would mean we wouldn’t get the famous red carpet. I shouldn’t have doubted him! The chorus unfolds the cloths they were sewing and covers nearly the entire stage in red.

Clytemnestra persuades Agamemnon to step on the carpet.

I so love the spiderweb on Clytemnestra’s robe. This and the net Agamemnon wore in “Hecuba” makes me wonder if the costumes of any other characters tell us something about them.

Cassandra when Clytemnestra is speaking to her.

And now for another installment of the amazing facial expressions of Cassandra:

Tearing off her priestess robes with a cry of “Apollo, look!”

The doors to the palace opening for Cassandra.

I love how thoroughly she wrinkles the carpet and I really like how the chorus pull the pieces apart again when they hear the commotion inside.

Clytemnestra with the bodies of Cassandra and Agamemnon. Agamemnon staggers out of the palace before collapsing – I was not expecting that the first time I watched this and it really shocked me! Cassandra is carried out by a soldier.

Kotaro Yoshida as Aegisthus.

Aegisthus and Clytemnestra.

The chorus gathers around Agamemnon and Cassandra as the play ends.

Electra (Sophocles)

“Electra” begins with Electra (Shinobu Terajima) and the chorus, seven years after the end of “Agamemnon.”

I admit that my love for this play (and this production of it, and Terajima’s Electra, and every expression Terajima makes as Electra) may have led me to go a little overboard on the screencaps.

Electra shoves her head into a nearby wine jug (I assume it’s supposed to be wine, although in real life I’m pretty sure it’s water) as Chrysothemis (Sayaka Kobayashi) enters.

Chrysothemis is concerned about Electra.

Electra isn’t bothered by Aegisthus and Clytemnestra’s plan to lock her away.

This is just before Electra slams the grapes Chrysothemis is carrying to the ground and stomps on them.

Clytemnestra appears.

Electra wanders through the aisles as Clytemnestra speaks to her.

That face!!

I really, really love how physical Electra gets to be. Here she’s about to strangle Clytemnestra as she prays. Her reaction when the messenger enters and spoils this plan is great – you can tell how much stress she’s under just by the way she moves.

Clytemnestra is relieved to hear that Orestes is dead.

Chrysothemis is thrilled because she believes Orestes is alive; Electra is crying because she’s just been told he’s dead.

Chrysothemis after Electra shouts at her that Orestes is dead.

Electra is determined to kill Clytemnestra even without Orestes, and asks Chrysothemis if she’ll help her.

Electra with Orestes’ ashes.

Orestes (Kikunosuke Onoe) removes his disguise. Fun fact: Terajima and Onoe are real life older sister and younger brother. Everything I learn about this production makes me love it more!

Just before Orestes goes into the palace.

Watching Electra react to the nightmarish things happening offstage is basically my favourite part of Greek tragedy.

When Clytemnestra and Orestes come back onstage, we learn the real reason for the wine jugs: Clytemnestra tips over every one in order to slow Orestes’ pursuit. I’m of two minds about this. It feels a little slapsticky, especially because there are a couple falls that are overacted. But at the same time, it shows that Orestes is so determined to kill his mother that he’ll keep chasing her even when he can barely walk, which to me makes the scene feel even more messed up than it already is! Also, watching everyone slide around the stage is pretty much the biggest visual spectacle this production offers, so in the end I think I like it more than dislike it.

Also, the sharp-eyed among you might be able to see that the front row of the audience has been provided with plastic sheets so they don’t get wet!

Electra reacting to the terror happening offstage, part two.

Electra laughs when Aegisthus appears and asks her what’s happening.

Aegisthus realizing Orestes has returned.

Orestes ordering Aegisthus inside. Electra is crying on the floor after Orestes had to push her off Aegisthus. Clytemnestra’s body is on the floor behind Aegisthus. Welcome to Greek tragedy?

After killing Aegisthus, Orestes comes back onstage covered in blood and almost immediately starts to wonder if he did the right thing.

The moment we’ve all been waiting for – the Furies are here! We never see them, but Orestes does.

Electra and Chrysothemis grab Orestes and try to convince him that it’s just his imagination, but he pushes them off and runs offstage, ending the play.

Other Greeks posts: my review; The War screencaps; The Gods screencaps

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