OEDIPUS To 9 April.

by Steven Berkoff after Sophocles.

Nottingham Playhouse To 9 April 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat 31 March, 7 April 1.30pm, 2nd April 2.30pm no performance 4 March.
Audio-described 2 April 2.30pm, 6 April.
BSL Signed 8 April.
Post-show talk 5 April.
Run s 1hr 50min No interval.

TICKETS: 0115 9419419
Review: Jen Mitchell 24 March.

Berkoff at his best – challenging, interesting and remarkably theatrical.

The signature of Steven Berkoff is written unmistakably across this retelling of a Greek classic, co-produced by Nottingham with Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse (where it opened in February). Berkoff’s Oedipus is accessible to the ear of today’s audience, having been given a modern twist, whilst remaining true to Sophocles’ version – losing nothing of the majesty of the original.

The set is simple; the furnishing sparse. The power of suggestion is employed fully through the use of a range of cultural images, imprinted on our subconscious. Da Vinci’s Last Supper is recreated in the opening scene – King Oedipus sits at the centre of a long table, facing the audience. The chorus enter and in stylised slow motion, take up the places of the disciples. The colours and images on the walls are reminiscent of Dalli, and Breughel is captured in the frozen grotesque faces of the chorus. There exists in this piece a true synthesis between drama, staging, lighting and music.

Simon Merrells’ performance as Oedipus is spot-on – tight and full of energy; as convincing in his Kingly swagger as in his tragic downfall when the full, horrific truth of his life is laid before him. His wife Jocasta (Louise Jameson) is the perfect foil – soft and contained to Oedipus’s raw strength and bursting physicality. Her fear of the truth grows visibly and it is Jocasta who first puts the pieces of the jigsaw together.

Vincenzo Nicoli cuts a fine figure as Creon. He seems every bit the modern Greek politician – the suggestive strains of Zorba’s theme in the background supports this image.

The ensemble though are the true heroes of this piece. They move flawlessly between presenting the masses and a group of individuals, the controlled slow-motion sequences contrasting sharply with periods of almost frenetic. activity. Each event and emotion is clearly revealed by the almost painfully freezes they find themselves in – Berkoff’s love of physicality brought to life by eight men in timeless working-class attire.

Ensemble/Messenger 1: Anthony Barclay.
Ensembe: Sean Buckley, Mark Frost, Eoin McCarthy, Anthony Ofodegbu.
Ensemble/Tiresias: Ian Drysdale.
Ensemble/Messenger2: Christopher Hogben.
Jocasta: Louised Jameson.
Ensemble/Shepherd: Alex McSweeney.
Oedipus: Simon Merrells.
Creon: Vincenzo Nicoli.

Director: Steven Berkoff.
Designer: Michael Vale.
Lighting: Mike Robertson.
Sound: John Chamber.

2011-03-26 01:52:48

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