I did not expect the songs. Sure, I was ready for the incest, self-mutilation and murder, but the songs were a pleasant surprise. A Fringe and Festival Hellenika event, Loucas Loizou shares a story telling hour, A Greek Tragedy: Oedipus Rex – The King based on the Ancient Greek play by Sophocles, Oedipus Rex. Loizou has several shows throughout fringe which sound tantalizing – especially ‘A Refugee Sings World Songs’ – a double header with Oedipus.
Full disclosure: classics major here. I recently re-read Oedipus Rex (and its sequels, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone). The language in translation is beautiful, and at times evoked by Loizou in his melodious descriptions of character’s inner lives. The story of Oedipus is one familiar to audiences everywhere: the appeal lies in the new ways it can be explored and presented. Despite the drama and chaos of the source material, Loizou’s Oedipus is a soothing experience: songs that explore melancholy and love intersperse the play and weave around a story familiar but always chilling.
Oedipus is presented at several different venues throughout its run, and for this review, we had the pleasure of descending the steps down to the Treasury Tunnels. An atmospheric venue, this was the best I have seen it used yet: the natural arc of the walls lends itself very well to a one-person show, particularly with archways standing in for wings.
Loizou’s stage presence was welcomingly filled with gravitas, representing the Greek chorus that tells the tale and intersperses the original Oedipus Rex. The chorus was a role traditionally associated with singing, so it felt right to hear once again the key emotional themes sung through. At times, I wished for less storytelling and more acting. This was pleasantly granted with the final scene, which I won’t spoil but for any of those familiar with the original, involved a gratifying amount of fake blood.
Different from what I expected, but satisfying and heartfelt all the same: a classic that keeps marching to its own music.