Andromache

Andromache

Written by Jean Racine
Performed in English
British Première 
1984–1985

An alliance of Greek States has laid siege to Troy after years of trying to retrieve Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. Each side has lost its best warrior. Prince Hector of Troy has been killed and his widow, Andromache, has fallen under the control of King Pyrrhus.

Andromache has saved her son, Astyanax, by a trick. He is the last surviving male member of the Royal House of Troy. Pyrrhus, betrothed to Hermione, falls in love with his prisoner Andromache…

Andromache was Racine’s third play to be performed. Today it is regarded as one of the greatest achievements in French theatre.

Produced by Cheek by Jowl. Translated by David Bryer. The British première performance of Andromache was given by Cheek by Jowl at the Paxton Suite, Buxton on 9th August 1984.

“Racine stripped of heroic gesture, heightened delivery and played in idiomatic prose is a startling novelty, and Declan Donnellan’s production justifies it up to the hilt.”

The Times
Cast and creative team

Cast

NameCharacter
Duncan BellPyrrhus
Andrew CollinsOrestes
Simon DormandyPylades
Deirdre EdwardsCleone
Amanda HarrisAndromache
Sadie ShimminHermione
Martin TurnerPhoenix
Anne WhiteCephisa

Creative Team

RoleName
DirectorDeclan Donnellan
DesignerNick Ormerod
Costume DesignersKim Kenny & Nick Ormerod
Set BuildingSquare Peg
Costume MakersKim Kenny & Judy Lloyd Rogers
Company Stage ManagerNick Kidd
Company MovementIlan Reichel
Company VoiceCharmian Hoare
Previous performances

Previous Performances

Date (first performance)LocationNo. of performances
21 January 1985London, Donmar Warehouse, England7
4 December 1984Norwich, Arts Centre, England2
1 December 1984Burton Upon Trent, Technical College, England1
29 November 1984Rugby, Macready Theatre, England1
27 November 1984Oswestry, Leisure Centre, England1
30 October 1984Chipping Norton, The Theatre, England2
18 October 1984Canterbury, Gulbenkian Theatre, England3
16 October 1984Hemel Hempstead, Old Town Hall, England2
12 October 1984Epsom, Playhouse, England1
11 October 1984Loughborough, Charnwood Theatre, England1
10 October 1984Loughborough, Burleigh Community College, England1
3 October 1984Coleraine, Riverside Theatre, N Ireland2
28 September 1984Shrewsbury, Sixth Form College, England2
22 September 1984Fareham, Drama Centre, England1
17 September 1984King’s Lynn, Fermoy Centre, England2
24 August 1984Glasgow, Tron Theatre, Scotland1
9 August 1984Buxton, Paxton Suite, England3
Awards and reviews

Awards

Olivier Award – Most Promising Newcomer of the Year in Theatre

1985 – Cheek by Jowl for Andromache, Pericles and Vanity Fair at the Donmar Warehouse

Reviews

“Racine in modern dress we have seen before. Racine stripped of heroic gesture, heightened delivery and played in idiomatic prose is a startling novelty, and Declan Donnellan’s production justifies it up to the hilt.”

The Times

“It says much for the young Cheek by Jowl company at the Donmar Warehouse that they held their audience silent and spellbound with the stylized decorum of play by Jean Racine, notoriously the least accessible dramatist to English ears…Thrilling…Declan Donnellan’s direction stealthily produces an electrifying effect.”

The Daily Telegraph

“The value, originality and excellence of their stage work is such that I am passionately convinced they could do the Peking telephone directory and make it charismatic.”

The Chronicle
Production photo
Photograph: Peter Mares
Production photo
Photograph: Peter Mares

“Declan Donnellan’s direction stealthily produces an electrifying effect.”

The Daily Telegraph

Why, what could she have done, being what she is? Was there another Troy for her to burn?

W. B. Yeats

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