Review: Truth After Murder, The Etcetera Theatre,(Camden Fringe)

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Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸

Fresh, fast-paced, stirring and raw. Truth After Murder takes part of an epic Greek trilogy and thrillingly reimagines it for the modern audience, with effortless meaning-making and intent.

Presented by To Be Creative the piece is a modern and dystopian adaptation of The Orestia, set after a Fourth World War leaving mass devastation and a cut in international communications. It enigmatically frames the events from Orestes’ resurgence from exile and his reunification with his sister Electra, up until the murder of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, within the concept of a talk being given by famous author Orestes Carter on his new book Truth After Murder, a ‘fictional’ and thrilling retelling of the events. The result of this, is a pacey, relevant and thrilling reimagining, that is both reflective of the modern society and presents many questions on identity, morality, truth, financial greed and social justice.

The actuality of the plot is centred within a mental institution that Electra has been held in for 15 years. Orestes returns from Spain in the guise of an appointed psychiatrist to clinically evaluate his sister. Without revealing himself, he urges her towards sanity. His plan being to present himself and Electra as the rightful inheritants of their slain father’s assets and, (as the sibling guided strictly by his moral compass), to calmly and lawfully ask his mother and step-father to obey, leaving the island they rule behind. However, as this plan falls apart so does Orestes’ morality. Resulting in an interesting exegesis on whether we are defined by our actions, motivations or both? Examining greed, revenge, sought justice and trauma as determinants towards action. And whether we all could be, should we ever be given the chance, capable of murder? Particularly if we could get away with it.

Ricardo Carollo (Orestes) and Mariana Elicetche (Electra) are phenomenal performers. Carollo adeptly switches between his fourth-wall-breaking dialogues with the audience – explicating on the character’s  ‘new book’ and reading out various passages, into his vulnerable narrative-enacting scenes with Elicetche. He is an adroit and strong storyteller with excellent pacing and clarity. Whilst Elicetche is an exceedingly emotive and expressive performer, able to realistically convey incredible amounts pain and anguish. She is effervescent on stage. The pair are sublime counterparts for each other and should be commended for their powerful deliveries. The music by Catarina Dos Santos  is incredibly divisive, it builds tension wonderfully and quickly and effectively moves the piece on, keeping a good pace it divides scenes up perfectly. Alongside this, the writing itself exquisite, it is impassioned and bold. Arif Alfaraz get this adaptation so very right. Creating two layered and complex characters, their differing and pained experiences provides a dialogue on many prevalent cruxes in society such as homophobia, sexual assault, how we handle mental health, financial greed, corruption of power and the criminal justice system. It is impressive that Alfaraz is able to curb so many topics in one short show.

There is however, not much development on the year being 2099 and why this choice has been made or why this is significant. It is simply mentioned in a few fly away comments. As the work is so relevant to today, perhaps 2019 would have been more apt and striking. Furthermore, there is a little confusion over mobile phones. Orestes mentions the limited nature of communications as a result of the war. Necessary to explain why the siblings haven’t spoken or even seen each other on social media. Yet Orestes goes on to use a smartphone in several scenes alongside an old fashioned dictaphone. If he has a smartphone  an app would replace this bulky equipment, yet according to the dialogue he shouldn’t really have one at all. However these are minor technicalities that do not spoil the overall delivery.

Truth After Murder is a Camden Fringe must see! There’s only one performance left on Sunday 25th August, book here.

 

Playwright and Director: Arif Alfaraz

Producer: Montse Carrasco

Cast: Riccardo Carollo and Mariana Elicetche

Costume Designer: Ruth Chesterton

Music: Catarina Racha

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