Dianeira (Catherine Bailey Ltd for R3, Sunday, November 28) pulsated with overt, destructive rage. Timberlake Wertenbaker's play was a retelling of an old story which Sophocles used in Women of Trachis.
Her narrator was a Greek storyteller (Olympia Dukakis) who occasionally broke off her account to a group of students to demand more brandy or money, or to stress its theme of anger passed down from parents to son, and of the power of parents over their children.
Harriet Walter, as Dianeira, had endured an unhappy marriage to Heracles (Alan Howard), and vent her wrath when he brought home one of his mistresses, Iole (Emily Bruni). Their son, Hyllos (Joseph Fiennes) had had his heart broken by the parents he condemned, but was forced to repeat their mistake in a cold marriage to Iole.
The narrative was action-packed but lucid, the language full of vivid truths ("the bitterest anger is silent") and Stephen Warbeck's music ominous. As the gods twitched the strings of their human puppets, I was totally gripped.
Radio Review, 2.12.99.
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