"The World's Oldest State Of The Nation Play" Gets Another Airing

The Suppliant Women, Young Vic ★★★★☆

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"The World's Oldest State Of The Nation Play" Gets Another Airing The Suppliant Women, Young Vic 4
Gemma May in The Suppliant Women at the Young Vic © Stephen Cummiskey

The Suppliant Women is the story of female refugees fleeing from the forced marriages that await them, and being (initially) treated as outsiders in a place that they might rightfully call home. If the tale feels depressingly relevant to us today, the greater surprise is that it was written 2,500 years ago.

David Greig has created a new version of Aeschylus’ classic play in a way that universalises the work’s messages, even though the places remain unchanged. Aeschylus himself was a great innovator in theatre, and this telling captures the spirit of an event in Ancient Greece in more ways than one.

The Suppliant Women at the Young Vic © Stephen Cummiskey

In the original the chorus would have comprised young men who were not professionals, and whose participation almost constituted a rite of passage. Here, the chorus of Greek women were all auditioned from the local community. As they sing, chant and dance, having been drilled to a high standard, the work feels as much a form of ritual as it does a piece of theatre. It also highlights the importance of giving art a central place in society.

The Suppliant Women, Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 8LZ. £10-38. 14-25 November 2017.

Last Updated 20 November 2017