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Ajax at the Space: Ripples Spreading Outwards

It is astonishing to think that Sophocles’ famous play Ajax has as much relevance today as it did when it was first written and performed 2000 years ago. The terrible effects of war on mental health echo down the centuries in Esmond Productions’ gender-bending version, with women playing all the roles.

Post-traumatic stress disorder wreaks havoc with Commander Ajax, and like a stone thrown into the pool, the ripples spread outwards over everyone in her orbit; wife, child, sister, the soldiers under her command. The passing-on of violent preoccupations from mother to daughter are skilfully evoked in the opening scenes where a child lolls on stage, mimicking her mother’s warrior nature. If the chain of violence cannot be broken between the generations, what hope is there for any of us? Even the interference of the Goddesses cannot alter the terrible fate of the Commander who has been too long at war and cannot rid herself of the blood on her hands.

The Space, being an old building lends itself well to historical work, the playing space becoming a camp and the curtains at the rear a tent. The young cast is committed and charismatic, owning the stage and the play, particularly in the singing, which made the hairs rise up on the neck such was its beauty. The lighting and sound work was very good, heightening the incantatory power of the language. SEEN looks forward to more from Esmond Productions.

269 Westferry Road
Isle of Dogs
E14 3RS