Opening tonight at the Royal Court Upstairs, Macdonald's production has a new translation by Caryl Churchill.
'She's brilliant at writing about what's going on in our society at any given moment. She does so with an economy and wit and poetry which is very rare. We went to see Mnouchkine's Les Atrides, and Caryl went away and tracked down Seneca's Latin version. Oddly enough, we both did Latin at 'A' level.
'For a while now, she has begun to move into more difficult, darker areas, and this play reflects her concerns. It's about people living in extreme emotional states and under tyranny. Seneca led this fantastically compromised life: he was the leading Stoic philosopher of his day, yet he was also chief political advisor to a lunatic.
'It deals with ideas of good and evil, although evil is not a word she would use. There's an acute gallows humour to the play. In such emotionally forlorn landscape, humour is part of the territory.'
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