Review by Emma Whitelaw
BIZARRE yet incredibly thought-provoking, Leah Vitalis
award-wining play, Roast Beef, currently showing at Riverside
Studios, is certainly one to view with an open mind.
A Philosophy lecturer once let me in on a little secret. He said
that to truly understand and appreciate the thoughts and works
of Descartes, Aristotle and the like, it is best to do so armed
with a bottle of red.
Vitalis Roast Beef, I feel, is much the same. Not
that I condone binge-drinking, especially at the theatre! Its
just that I feel this piece is so provocatively unusual, it takes
a lot of lateral thinking to fully appreciate the intricately
Roast Beef is a modern day take on the ancient Greek myth
of Agamemnon, King of Argos and his wife, Clytemnestra. They sacrifice
their daughter, Iphigenia, to the Gods, in the hope that a favourable
wind will sail for the war against Troy.
Agamemnon, played by Stratos Tzortzoglou, leaves for battle,
while his wife takes a lover, none other then the kings
brother, Aegisthus! Succumbing to her every evil wish, Aegisthus
becomes somewhat of a gimp, as he parades about on her leash.
Roast Beef takes place when the King returns from battle.
He has no memory of the life he left behind and has no idea of
the gruesome destiny ahead.
Sarah Douglas, best known for her roles in Superman I & II
and Falcon Crest, was utterly amazing as the wicked Clytemnestra.
Maliciously insane and callous, her performance was absolutely
flawless. She is an immensely talented actress and a pleasure
to watch onstage.
Making her professional debut, the stunning Kitty OLone
played Clytemnestras bewitching daughter, Iphigenia. She
too gave a dazzling performance, and the young star certainly
held her own among the veterans, despite only having graduated
from ALRA last year.
Iphigenia is so obsessed with becoming Clytemnestra that she
not only mimics her mothers persona; she takes both Aegisthus
and Agamemnon to bed!
Aegisthus, played by the talented Glenn Conroy, is also obsessed
with being someone else. His desire is to be Agamemnon and have
everything his brother owns including his wife!
However, when his brother returns to his estranged wifes
bed, Aegisthus becomes enraged with envy, resulting in a most
The costuming was fabulous, as was the lighting, sound and set
designs. The sound was particularly successful in adding an eerie
feel to the mysterious and compelling plot.
Unlike the original Greek tragedy, Roast Beef has an element
of humour about it. The characters are quite preposterous and
the dialogue full of punch lines. To transcend the bounds of tragedy
is credit to both writer and performer.
For a play involving such grotesque and bizarre subject matter,
it sure got a lot of laughs!
Roast Beef written by Leah Vitali, produced & translated
by Sozos Loizou. Directed by Alkis Kritikos. Starring Sarah Douglas,
Stratos Tzortzoglou, Glenn Conroy, Maureen Purkis and Kitty OLone.
Tuesday, June 8 - Sunday, June 27 at Riverside Studios, Crisp
Road, Hammersmith, London, W6. Box office 020 8237 1111.