It seemed to have been a permanent fixture, Gaughan observed, long before two hi-jacked aeroplanes flew into the World Trade Centre's twin towers in New York more than a decade ago, changing the world forever. All the more reason, then, to revive Hecuba, Euripides' classic fourth century BC anti-war play. Set after the Trojan War but before the Greeks have left Troy, Hecuba charts how the play's eponymous former queen of the now fallen city exacts a terrible revenge following the death of her daughter, Polyxena, and the murder of her son, Polydoros.
"We're living in a world today where a lot of terrible crimes against humanity are taking place," Gaughan observes, "particularly in the Middle East. That was the case as well with the Greeks, so they used myths to illustrate this and to comment on what was going on in society."
With this in mind, Gaughan has opted to use a version of the play penned by Frank McGuinness a decade ago, when the aftermath of 9/11 was still fresh in the collective psyche. This allows Gaughan to work with something that is both classical and contemporary in its construction and execution.
"The text is brilliant," Gaughan affirms. "Frank's written such a strong and illuminating version of the play. He's written it in semi-contemporary language, and pared things right back, so it's very exposing, with no fluff around the action, and in a way that makes things much more accessible to the ear."
One of the more striking features of Gaughan's production should come in its appearance. Rather than use the full sweep of Dundee Rep's auditorium, Gaughan has opted to put the audience onstage, where they will watch the action in a purpose-built construction that contains both them and the performers. Such an intimate approach has been something of a calling card for Gaughan, ever since she directed a claustrophobic version of Dennis Kelly's psycho-sexual thriller, After The End, in the up close and personal environs of the Citizens Theatre's Circle Studio. Gaughan directed the equally intense Roman Bridge, by Martin Travers, for the National Theatre of Scotland.
"I don't want to create a distance," Gaughan says of her decision on how to stage Hecuba. "The Rep's got this gorgeous auditorium, but using that would have meant having to change the playing style and do everything so much bigger. By bringing the audience onstage and watching the action from three sides it creates a much more intimate and at times voyeuristic feel,. At times it's so small and tender, and at other times you wonder whether we should be watching this, because the characters are so full of grief."
If there is a dark thread running through Gaughan's work, it's not deliberate, but is more to do with a professional curiosity about "situations that aren't black and white, and which ask how we got ourselves in a particular position".
Gaughan has recently branched out into musicals with young company, Noisemaker, on a show called Forest Boy, and into opera with Johnny McKnight on Last One Out. Given that the former was based on a real story about a boy who may or may not have lived in the wild, while the latter was set and performed in a lighthouse in Fraserburgh, darkness and claustrophobia remain on her agenda.
"I like to think of myself as a nice happy person," Gaughan laughs, "but I suppose I'm interested in a theatre of conflict. With Hecuba we've been looking at what's going on in Syria and Egypt quite a lot, and one of the things I'm interested in is that this cycle of violence will never end. It all comes down to why the Greeks made theatre, which was to reflect what was going on in society at the time, and to reflect on how a war can change people.
"For me, it's about going, okay, this is a Greek myth, we're creating a piece of theatre and aren't actually in a dangerous situation, but let's think about the wars that are going on now. I'm sitting in Dundee, and all these terrible things are going on in the world right now. Theatre can make you look at that. It brings current situations to the fore, and makes us question our humanity, and what our responsibilities are."
l Hecuba is at Dundee Rep from Thursday to October 26 www.dundeerep.co.uk