The cast is dressed simply in combat trousers and T-shirts, and addresses the audience with an urgency and directness that complements the power of the language. Anthony Shuster, as the eponymous hero, fuels his performance with an agonised portrayal of the internalised pain accompanying the wound that has marked him as an outcast. Odysseus and Neoptolemus have arrived under the gods' instruction to take him back to Troy to end the war, and the ensuing battle of wits and honour displays an arresting dignity.
Several theatre companies at Edinburgh have let their imaginations wander in the direction of Troy this year, and the Oxford University Touring Company's production of Sophocles' Philoctetes is a vibrant example of how ancient Greek preoccupations can still get under 20th-century skins. Director Helen Eastman has added punch by selecting Seamus Heaney's translation, The Cure at Troy, which taps into the visceral nature of Philoctetes' grief, and forces the audience to re-examine the issues underpinning the play.