August 6, 2014, by Helen Lovatt

Classical festivities in Edinburgh: A handy list

Lynn Fotheringham asks what’s on at the Edinburgh Festival this year and finds many interesting classical productions.

For many years now my theatre-going has tended to focus on the Classics-related – not just performances of Greek drama; over my fifteen years in Nottingham, I remember Heaney’s Burial at Thebes and Berkoff’s Oedipus at the Playhouse, but also One Touch of Venus at the Royal. As I was trawling through the ‘forthcoming’ web-pages of various Nottingham venues, I noticed that there’s a version of Antigone on at the Lakeside for two nights in October. Looking further afield, I discovered the NT is currently doing Medea in London – have to try and make it to that. You know how the internet leads you astray sometimes: I soon found myself wondering what – if anything – Classical was on at the Edinburgh Festival. Even though I’m not going to be there…

Well, I made a list. (I like making lists!) Classicists who are going to be in Edinburgh might find it useful.

The official Festival has Berlioz’ Les Troyens at the Festival Theatre, 28th-30th August (Mariinsky Opera). I know from Helen Lovatt (who wrote about it in Epic Visions) that this opera isn’t staged very often – she caught it at the Royal Opera House in 2012. So that’s a rare treat for fans of Berlioz and/or the Aeneid. I also spotted in the brochure Scriabin’s Prometheus in the Opening Concert (8th August at 7.30pm, Usher Hall), Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, 27th August at 8pm, Usher Hall), and Szymanowski’s Metopes (Piotr Anderszewski, 15th August at 11am, Queen’s Hall).

As regards the Fringe, there’s so much on that I can’t be sure I’ve caught everything, but I’ve skimmed the ‘Musicals and Opera’/‘Theatre’ sections of the programme. I’ve cast the net widely, including e.g. Shakespeare-plays set in the ancient world or closely following Plautus. Interesting to note that there are three Antigones, two Electras and two Trojan Womens; but all this pales in comparison with a total of eight Hamlets! I’ve given production dates, title, (production company; location) – and occasionally a comment:

Theatre (alphabetical by title)
• 11-16/08: Antigone (Mermaids Portsmouth High School; Greenside @ Royal Terrace)
• 30/07-25/08: Antigone (Teatro Instabile & Theandric Teatronoviolento; Chambers Street)
• 19-22/08: Antigone (UWE Drama Society; theSpace on the Mile)
• 31/07-24/08: Bill Clinton Hercules (Theatre Tours International; Assembly George Square Studios)
• 30/07-25/08: The Bunker Trilogy: Agamemnon (Jethro Compton Productions; India Buildings)
• 31/07-25/08: The Complete History of Comedy (Reduced Shakespeare Company; Pleasance Courtyard) – gotta mention Aristophanes & co., you’d think…
• 01-23/08: The Decline and Fall of Marcus Distillius (The Revolving Shed; theSpace on North Bridge)
• 01-09/08: Electra: An American Gothic (Slippery Rock Theatre; theSpace @ Venue45)
• 18-23/08: The Electra Project (Hungry Wolf; theSpace @ Surgeons Hall)
• 13-24/08: The God that Comes (2b theatre company; Summerhall)
• 04-23/08: Hecat’s Poison: Enter the Three Witches (Players Tokyo; Quaker Meeting House) – actually Macbeth, but told by Hecate!
• 01-09/08: Julius Caesar in original pronunciation (University of Houston-Downtown & University Theatre; Gryphon@WestEnd)
• 30/07-25/08: Lysistrata (DEM Productions; Chambers Street)
• 01-09/08: Medea (Big Shoes Theatre Company; theSpace on North Bridge)
• 10-25/08: The Penelopiad (Cambridge Shortlegs; Chambers Street)
• 02-23/08: Pomegranate Jam (CalArts Festival Theater; Lochend Close)
• 31/07-25/08: Simon Callow in Juvenalia [geddit?] (Riverside Studios & Theatre Royal Plymouth; Assembly Hall)
• 31/07-10/08: This is Where We Live (Paperbark Theatre Company; Assembly George Square Studios) – Orpheus & Eurydice? could be pretty tenuous…
• 02-24/08: 300 to 1 (Panesh Prods; Banshee Labyrinth) – FREE!
• 11-23/08: The Trojan Women (3Bugs Fringe Theatre; theSpace on the Mile)
• 01-09/08: Trojan Women (ETC; theSpace on the Mile)
• 04-09/08: William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors (American High School Theatre Festival; Church Hill Theatre)
• 31/07-25/08: Working Title: The Orpheus Project (Nomanstime Automatics; St Columba’s by the Castle)
There’s also this, which I think has nothing Classical about it except the title, but…
• 01-24/08: Icarus (Square Peg Theatre; ZOO)
Musicals and opera
• 11-23/08: Dido and Aeneas (About Turn Theatre Company; theSpace @ Venue45)
• 02-23/08: Fleeced (By the Book Productions; Lochend Close)
• 30/07-09/08: The Odyssey: An Epic Musical Epic! (Audacious Productions; Chambers Street)

• 02-23/08: A History of Rome. With Jokes (Ed O’Meara; Sportsters) – FREE!
• 04-09/08: Journeys Beyond (Unclassified Arts & WAC Arts; the Space @ Venue45) – blurb mentions Greek among other myths
• 23/08: Mary Beard: He-he-he! What made the ancient Romans laugh? (Lakin McCarthy/The Assembly Rooms; Assembly Rooms)
• 03-24/08: Romesh Ranganathan: Rom wasn’t Built in a Day (Off the Kerb Productions; Pleasance Courtyard) – there are Roman soldiers on the poster, but who knows?

It’d be great to hear from anyone who actually gets to one of the productions! I’m currently working on Don Taylor’s ’80s/’90s BBC productions on television (IMDb here and here); for more information on the performance history of Greek drama see e.g. APGRD, Didaskalia.

Photo: Lynn Fotheringham and Matt Brooker.

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