YORK company Belt Up Theatre is switching from an interactive style to a more rigid setting for this week’s production of The Oresteia, in The Studio, at York Theatre Royal.

The university student show is billed as a “relentlessly fast-paced reincarnation of Aeschylus’s classic trilogy” in which revenge begets revenge as a terrible curse runs deep through a family’s blood.

“We’ve done a lot of shows in an immersive environment, where it’s not like a conventional theatre format and there’s no divide between performer and audience,” says James Wilkes, who has co-written the new adaptation of The Oresteia with co-director Dominic Allen.

“We did A Clockwork Orange in The Studio in that style, and now it’s a question of seeing how we respond to the location having worked previously in our own world. It’s a challenge to make a more rigid setting our own.”

Belt Up has enjoyed award-winning success with its bravura versions of Women Of Troy, Volpone and Tartuffe.

“We like taking these iconic pieces and re-writing them when people have these preconceived ideas, messing around with them a bit,” says James. “That’s the main motivation behind The Oresteia.”

Explaining how this policy works in practice, Dominic says: “We subvert some bits, usually for comic effect, just to break up the tragedy, which can be impenetrable at times in The Oresteia.”

The co-directors agree that their biggest challenge was to cut the trilogy down from four hours.

“Rather than going down to the deep bowels of Greek drama, our show runs for less than 90 minutes, so we’ve been quite brutal,” says James.

Not as brutal, however, as the dysfunctional family feud unleashed in The Oresteia, in which a young man – the fruit of poisoned loins – avenges his father’s murder at the hands of his mother by killing her in turn.

“You have to consider that these Greek tragedies are 4,000 years old, so if you don’t go a little crazy with them, then you’re missing an opportunity,” says James.

“If you didn’t take some licence you might as well do the published texts, and we want to do something new, but all the time, every step of the way, we have to judge how far we can go,” says Dominic.

James’s past productions have been noted for their vibrancy and physicality, linguist Dominic’s shows for a more philosophical style, and the two are brought together for The Oresteia.

“It looks playfully dark, Tim Burton meets Aeschylus,” says Dominic.

“One of the most important things is that you can do what you want as long as you establish your rules and stick to them,” says James. “That’s how Steven Berkoff’s plays work. You have to say that you’re either doing a modern representation or your own adaptation and we’re definitely going down the line of not being precious with the original.”

Performances start at 7.45pm tonight, 3pm and 7.45pm tomorrow. For tickets, ring 01904 623568.