Friday, July 16, 2010

Theatre: Oedipus the King

I was a little concerned before seeing a preview of this play that it might be worthy and dull - a play remembered merely because it is ancient rather than because it is good. I'm glad to say my concern was unfounded, and I found the play both fascinating and enjoyable.

Sophocles' Oedipus the King is the story of the king of Thebes, Oedipus, as he attempts to uncover the truth about both the previous king and Oedipus himself. Being used to modern film and theatre, I foolishly found myself trying to think of the play in modern terms as I watched - "Is it a murder mystery?", "No, wait, it's a political thriller!". It just is what it is, and it's good.

The Chorus is an interesting concept: these five actors serve a variety of roles, equivalent at times to extras in a crowd, but at other times speaking and interacting with the main characters, singing, or providing a form of narration.

The acting was generally good. There were one or two minor slips, but that's what previews are for. I particularly liked Michael Bates as Creon. Creon is a most likeable and impressive character, and Bates really brings out the man's virtues. (Bates also has the good fortune to have one of those rich, clear voices that audiences just want to keep listening to. He could be saying anything and it would sound wise and reasonable.) Creon's defense against a political allegation, in which he succinctly set outs his approach to life and politics, is a highlight of the show.

As the drama progresses, the intensity builds well. The pace and overall production quality are also good.

The play is presented by Classic Stage Ireland and runs from 19th July to 31st July 2010 in Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar. It is one hour and thirty-five minutes long, with no interval.

Also on in Project Arts Centre: The Colleen Bawn.

Photographs linked to with permission of Classic Stage Ireland. (1) Oedipus speaks, Creon listens (2) The Chorus.

Oedipus speaks

The Chorus

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