There's to be a new version of 'Hecuba' as remodelled by Frank McGuiness.
'Hecuba' previews at the Donmar theatre (0870 060 6624) from Sept 9.
The Daily Telegraph sketches the background:
For Frank McGuinness, it was the best of times and worst of times. His version of Electra, starring Zoë Wanamaker, was one of the sensations of 1997, taking London by storm, before transferring to Broadway. After a string of successful translations of European classics – including an acclaimed rendition of Ibsen's A Doll's House, with Janet McTeer as Nora, which bagged four Tony Awards that year – here was conclusive proof that, as well as being one of Ireland's foremost playwrights, McGuinness had a way with others' words that few could match.
Yet the story behind his fresh, flinty remodelling of Sophocles' anatomy of grief and rage was one of, as he puts it, “desperate psychic upheaval”: during the time he worked on the play, his first Greek translation, he lost first his mother, then – 10 months later, mid-rehearsals – his father. The production sobbed with genuine grief – the more so as Wanamaker herself was also mourning her mother. “I couldn't have written it at any other time,” McGuinness says now. All the same, he was left feeling emotionally drained by the experience.
It's taken seven years for him to broach another Greek tragedy, and the fact that he arrives hobbling on a crutch, having broken his foot following a slip-up in his kitchen brought on by the exhaustion of overwork, suggests that this time round has been pretty taxing too.
Electra, however, left him so impressed by the set-up at the Donmar Warehouse, so enamoured of its intimacy, that he had vowed to return. “Greek plays were done in gigantic spaces,” he admits, “but I think a contemporary audience needs to see and hear those plays in as much detail as possible. The Donmar's perfect for that.”