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Fine work of apocalyptic brilliance

OEDIPUS - A POETIC REQUIEM
Liminal Theatre, J Studios, 100 Barkly St North Fitzroy.
Until September 14
Reviewer Cameron Woodhead

LIMINAL Theatre has been reworking classical Greek tragedy into a new theatrical poetic, inspired by Asian theatre, using a visually austere sensibility that draws on the duality of dark and light.

Fresh from a production of Antigone, Liminal now revives its acclaimed Oedipus - A Poetic Requiem. This isn’t Sophocles’ play, but an edited version of Ted Hughes’ free translation from Seneca. It’s a brutal, apocalyptic text, an Oedipus for an age of terror and impending ecological disaster.

Hughes’ version is riddled with references to plague. Thebes has become a city of death, its citizens paying in blood and pus the debt of Oedipus’ inadvertent crime. Liminal’s production employs a chorus of four women, to emphasise the suffering of the populace.

The anguished poetry benefits from the choric framework, with the actors twisting and arching into blighted, agonised tableaux as the torment swells. They break from the chorus to play the major characters, although Oedipus himself is represented as a white African-style mask, his lines delivered through voice-over.

Sound design, lighting and visual projection create a spectral sense of apocalypse - the foreboding rhythms of the soundscape provoke an atmosphere of dread, the climax plays out against a blood-red sun obscured by smoke, flickering against the ghosts of denuded trees. It is brilliantly designed and involving theatre.

Project Title: 
Oedipus
Publication Details
Publication: 
The Age
Author: 
Cameron Woodhead
Publication Date: 
Mon, 31/08/2009
URL: 
http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/arts/fine-work-of-apocalyptic-brilliance/2009/08/30/1251570618064.html