Author and Director Steven Berkoff
Liverpool Playhouse
Liverpool Playhouse/Nottingham Playhouse co-production
18th February - 12th March 2011

Reviewed by Colin Serjent
Photograph by Helen Warner

This Greek tragic tale, stylishly interpreted by Steven Berkoff from the orginal story by Sophocles, seldom veers from the essence of the original plot but at the same time has a contemporary feel to it .

Expecting a long drawn-out saga, it came as a relief that the production lasted less than two hours, with the endless twists and turns of this epic narrative thoroughly engrossing to behold.

Thebes is beset by plague, with King Oedipus (Simon Merrells) perplexed as to what has brought about the ire of the Gods. Little known to Oedipus the Gods are directly directing their anger at him because of his gross and unnatural actions.

The simple stage design, including a Dali-like surreal background symbolishing Greece of two thousand years ago, and a long banqueting table, at which the ensemble - an eight-man Greek Chorus, representing the followers of Oedipus - majestically perform highgly original choreography, expressing despair aka Munch and solace, depending on the particular circumstances of their King.

The entire play is underpinned by a mesmerising live musical soundtrack, performed off-stage by composer and sound designer John Chambers. Almost throughout your ears are treated to a ghost-like ambient drone, which adds special weight to the supernatural elements of the story.

One of the most spellbinding scenes is when Corinthinian the messenger (Anthony Barclay), wearing a grotesque mask - in a wonderfully nuanced speech - gives Oedipus the fateful news about him being abandoned by his mother Jocasta in the woods as a baby, and later handed to him by a shepherd (Alex McSweeney) to protect him from marauding wolves, leading to tragic conseequences for Oedipus and Jocasta, his wife/mother.

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed

Comment left by Adele Bennett on 10th March, 2011 at 20:02
One Word AMAZING!!!! :D

Comment left by johno on 19th March, 2011 at 15:22
what i thought the politics of director steven berkoff was trying to say with his minimalist orwellian set was the futility of the power struggle of the people ie King oedipus master in a pre democratic form of government monarchy who in craving for title is ready to kill all the other people in his way which includes his own father and in this blind pursuit of glory his closest companion his wife deserts him. blind faith and dreams of greatness brought to naught by fate. man is therfore not in control of his destiny and master of all he owns or observes. tyranny and dictatorship allegories abound,pride comes before the fall with lackeys or spin doctors abound in the last supper style setting or it it a mini house of commons,who knows great riveting stuff though.