Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan


An unseen man lies dead and his killer is still at large.There are, however, suspects. Andromache, the woman he was forcing into wedlock, freely admits she hated him. Hermione, the woman he was engaged to and then jilted for Andromache - it turns out she tried to get one of her admirers to kill the absconding fiancé on her behalf.

It's Racine, but not as we know it from the original French (1668). In this Classic Cut, the last in the Sol Summer Season, Frances Poet has distilled Racine's five act tragedy into a spiky, volatile two-hander that seethes with the timeless resentments of warring tribes, even as its North/South accents and incidental references speak of Ireland's schismatic Troubles. It is an inspired way of communicating what has been described as Racine's "hard, electric rage" - and there's not a long, slow alexandrine in earshot, ever. Instead, we hear two cunningly interwoven monologues, delivered side-by-side (on a bare stage) by Andromache and Hermione, as if they were in separate rooms being interrogated over a crime with sectarian implications.

The only blood we see is on Hermione's frothy white skirts, but Poet's clever modern text is hectic with the graphic spatter of hatred, obsession and vengeance that both women vent from an inner core of pride and passion.While Lucianne McEvoy (Hermione) has a fine nip of insulting wit in her bitterness, it falls to Rebecca Rodgers (Andromache) to bring out the brutality of the man they call Red (Racine's Pyrrhus) - a man who has treated them both as trophy objects at his disposal. Graham McLaren's direction cuts back on fuss and asks both performers for pace, conviction, and a commanding lava-flow of richly-imagined words. McEvoy and Rodgers respond with fierce intelligence and a flair for succulent invective.