Thursday, March 15, 2012


Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court Theatre

Another week, another Oedipus. No unicycles this time, out; I wasn't expecting many common points of reference between this Wednesday and last. But then along comes the Barber Adagio …

CTW's Oedipus, the Berg and Clay verse translation directed by Dean and Katherine Hempstead, is a much more traditional take, of course, despite the modern dress and the Powerpoint Chorus.
Plenty to admire in a boldly imagined staging: Steve Parr's compelling performance as a powerful King, a Socialist politician keen to be a man of the people, his limp gradually more pronounced as his life unravels, Sally Jane Ransom's tragic Jocasta, and a neat double from Karen Pemberton - Tiresias as Madame Arcati and a scene-stealing Shepherd.
The speaking of the text was patchy, but good voice work from Ben Fraser as Creon, and Sarah Chandler as the Sphinx and several other roles.
Add the tabloids, the music [More Deadlier Than The Male], the Da Vinci Code and you have a Greek tragedy for our times – just the kind of ambitious, important work CTW should be attempting.

Jim Hutchon was there for the Chelmsford Weekly News:

The husband and wife team, Dean and Kat Hempstead are to be admired for choosing this awesome Sophocles tragedy as their first joint collaboration. And there were many excellent touches in the production, which spelled out the complex detective whodunnit of murder, mayhem and incest with style and imagination.
But there were flaws too. It was dressed in modern dress, making the king and his cohorts look like mafia dons which made them unconvincing. There is no link between modern Greeks and their ancient glorious forebears.
Superb acting from Sally Ransom as the wife/mother Jocasta as realisation dawns, and an excellent cameo from Karen Pemberton as the messenger revealing Oedipus’ true origins. The King, and his brother-in-law Creon, were Steve Parr and Ben Fraser.
Apart from the costumes, the set was commendably spare, and the lights and music well chosen and effective, with good use of backdrop videos from – I think – the London riots. I did however feel the production overall lacked atmosphere and felt a little like a good rehearsal.


Jim C said...

An interesting divergence of opinions, there. Did you both see the same performance? I disagree with Jim's comments regarding the costume - I think modern dress was the way to go, although I might have preferred Oedipus to have been a little more militaristic.

Michael Gray said...

We are not really Birdboot and Moon - we do occasionally see the same show, on the same night !
But of course we don't have to agree, although our discussions are usually frank and full ...

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