This production at the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris is by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod of Cheek by Jowl, and I found it fascinating. Donnellan treats Racine's text with great respect but departs from the French tradition by getting the actors to play it as they would Shakespeare -- with lots of movement and physical action. In other words, they don't just stand still and declaim. The result is a powerful production, enhanced by the wonderfully scruffy and atmospheric old theatre, home to Peter Brook's company for the last quarter of a century. The nearest equivalent in London is Wilton's Music Hall. Like Donnellan, I discovered Racine for French A-level and I think I wrote essays on this particular play as an undergraduate. I always preferred Moliere to Racine but some of his beautifully chiselled lines are just as memorable as anything from Shakespeare. I saw a terribly pretentious German production of this play at the Edinburgh Festival three or four years ago in which the characters were perched on a bench surrounded by broken glass. Donnellan avoids this kind of nonsense, and simply encourages the actors to look for the meaning behind the lines they are speaking. Often a scene for two characters takes place with one speaker stage left, the other stage right, and the remaining characters immobile centre stage. Donnellan's real innovation is to place Andromaque's son Astyanax on stage as part of the action. Racine treats him as a ghostly offstage presence, mentioned but never shown. So there are nine actors on stage where Racine gave us eight -- but only eight chairs. Astyanax is a child who craves affection, hurling himself not only at his mother but at Pyrrhus as well. Most of the time he is mute, but sometimes echoes the lines spoken by the other characters. Children don't appear in French classical tragedy but they often do in Shakespeare, and I found it a really good method of drawing an extra layer of meaning out of the play. Camille Cayol as Andromaque and Camille Japy as Hermione are excellent as the rivals for Pyrrhus's affections. I couldn't help making comparisons with the excesses of Katie Mitchell's Women of Troy at the National. Donnellan is a real master of restraint by comparison. Even the minor characters or confidants have a lot to contribute, but the real difference between Donnellan and Mitchell is that for the former, the audience experience is paramount. For Mitchell, it's secondary.