Publicity Designer: Mai Ben-Yami, Jess Beaumont

A classical piece brought into the setting of a contemporary prison, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King sees a tragic Greek tale of murder, betrayal and devastating prophecy transpire this week at the Corpus Playroom. As Thebes is ravaged by a terrible plague, Oedipus searches for the murderer of the former King, Laius, in the hope that justice will bring an end to the city’s torment, only to unearth a series of terrible truths.

“Hill and Pearson’s production is undeniably smoothly executed”

Director Callum Hill’s vision is a commendable one, and the characterisation of the chorus (Andrew Gwynne) as the prison psychiatrist is a clever touch. The concept realised by Hill and assistant director Iris Pearson is brought to life by a thoughtful use of the space, with Jason Lo’s glaring institutional lighting complementing Abby Zucker’s simple but elegant set. The inclusion of moveable walls of bars makes for sharp scene transitions that flow seamlessly alongside the actors’ well-delivered dialogue. A tastefully arranged prayer-corner of flickering tea-lights and flowers sets a scene in which we bear witness to the desperation of the people of Thebes, as well as Jocasta’s (Louise Harris’) grief. The use of modern settings for classical pieces always carries the risk of there being a slightly confused fit between text and context, and while we do not entirely escape such difficulties here, Hill and Pearson’s production is undeniably smoothly executed.

“A genuinely haunting portrayal”

Xelia Mendes-Jones as Oedipus shows a competent command of the text and her performance is to be praised. The early confidence and brashness of the king is well conveyed (though at points there is a slight want of conviction), and the later transition to a state of rage and madness even more so. In the closing scenes of the play a bloodied Mendes-Jones gives a genuinely haunting portrayal of a hopeless man, as Oedipus realises only too late the true implication of the bars which surround him. Horrified gasps from fellow audience members as the tormented Oedipus clawed his way wildly about the space were well-justified.


Mountain View

Review: Collaborators

As the play progresses, the performances gain strength; by the show’s conclusion we have been drawn firmly into this nightmarish story. Though initially a little uncertain, Thomas Greig does well to capture Creon’s authority and indignation under fire of false accusations. Louise Harris’ guilt-ridden and hysterical Jocasta is consistently strong, while Tom Nunan is ominously eccentric as Tiresias.

Overall, this modern restaging of Oedipus the King is a thoughtfully minimalist rendering. The choice of the Fagles translation – a measured and rhythmic script - alongside well-directed deliveries serves to draws attention to the power of Sophocles’ work; it remains ever impressive and enduringly tragic 2400 years later

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