News > Spoleto Review: Oedipus

If you are a die-hard fan of Greek Tragedy, Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus may not be your glass of Ouzo. If you’re one who is titillated by unusual and edgy takes on classic themes, you will have more than enough fodder for post-performance reviews at the coffee house.

This is the story of a man, Oedipus, who unknowingly kills his father, then, marries his mother (again, unwittingly), and upon realizing what he had done, he violently pokes his eyes out. That’s more action then “A Clockwork Orange!” The play involves kings, queens, seers, oracles and the moiling rabble of the people of Thebes.

Opening with the cast in a pose redolent of “The Last Supper” surely had something to do with a ferociously profound message that was lost in its translation. I’m more accustomed to traditional adaptations of the Greek tragedy, especially with intricate sartorial splendor.  Was it edgy to have Oedipus the King regaled in a tailored blue suit, while the people of Thebes resembled the cast of “Gangs of New York?” Absolutely, and it worked well! But that edge was dulled as the cast continually threw themselves into fits of gesticulations resembling a crowd doing “The Wave” with pregnant pauses, or mincing about the stage entwined in a human huddle. Though the dialog was not always enlightening, a huge plus was the spectacular effort and energy expended by the cast in carrying out Berkoff’s vision. Should you be familiar with this work, you will have little trouble following the plot. However, if you’re not, it will take some time before you begin to understand the goings-on. Lengthy dialog debates the desolation, rotting plague, rats, and snakes of Thebes, when in fact, the problems are simply wrapped up in Oedipus’ curse.

In Steven Berkoff’s words, “My play and my production (portrays) the way men nourish, help, and secure the happiness of each other.” Alas, Steven, Oedipus is a Greek tragedy!

 words: Frank Silvestro
Posted on June 6, 2013 by admin.

Categories: Performing Arts, Review

Tags: Oedipus, Performing Arts, Spoleto, Spoleto Festival 2013

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