"Oedipus" by Nottingham New Theatre.
What I saw at Lakeside was not what I had expected. I knew that this Greek tragedy would be a little different in the hands of director Martin Berry, but this play has been picked up and shook up and has been completely revisited in a very novel way.
As you seat yourself down, it's like you've appeared mid way through a rehearsal with some of the cast doing sound checks and looking for props that may have gone walkabout. This immediately gets you into the mood for what is to come and associates you with the players; always a clever move I feel.
And then there's an introduction to the play and what you're about to see and what you can expect, again something unexpected. And so into the action...
There's plenty of drama and several ironic moments, which I won't spoil here. Oedipus is given away at birth, not knowing his parents. He ascends to King status but wants top know about his past and his parents, but what he is told is not what he wanted to hear. He finds out that he has murdered his father and has married his mother; neither parties here realised this at the time, because you wouldn't would you?....especially if you knew? Stricken with grief he takes drastic action after his mother/wife takes her own life.
All this is typical tragedy stuff of course but the way the story is told, with several updates on the story by the cast before getting back into the story, is completely fresh. it makes Grecian tragedy into a very likeable comedy. You could see this style of presentation going down well at the Edinburgh fringe; it has that, almost urgent feel about it while taking the time to make sure that we were all up to date on the progress of the story.
Re-imagining a 2500 year old piece of theatre for today's theatre goer is always going to be a task but Martin, working alongside the very talented Nottingham New Theatre cast, have done just that, and have produced a really interesting take on it which will appeal to anyone who likes their theatre with an edge.
Apart from the exciting cast, interesting costume design by Emma Williams, and novel set design by Lauren Connolly, one other thing that i really enjoyed about this production was the music. This again was eye catching with all instruments being played by members of the cast. Percussion, keyboards, violin and even a full blown electric rock guitar were involved, all played on stage in full view of the "in the round" seating arrangement.
The lighting was innovative, something that I personally have grown to expect at Lakeside; I wasn't disappointed with the work of the lighting designer, Richard Statham.
Martin Berry has again managed to give the "wow factor" with this new play, and while this wasn't what i had expected, I certainly was not disappointed in the least with what i got. A very exciting production with a new and innovative view on the classic tragedy play.
"Oedipus" is on at Lakeside until Saturday 23 April and is well worth seeing in my humble opinion.