EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL.
King’s Theatre. August 14, 15, 16 8.00 pm August 17 3.00 pm.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 stars)
This brilliant adaptation is by Robert Icke after Sophocles. it is presented by International Theater Amsterdam, and is in Dutch with surtitles.
The scene is bang up to date, and set during the night of an election. Oedipus is on course for a famous victory. The set is in the living quarters of Oedipus and his family, where they have been living during the campaign. Political action is continuous just behind the revolving doors, and a screen with newscasts can be seen beyond left, and a vivid countdown to result time is also visible.
The story is brought forward by millenia to today very effectively, and the intensity of electoral pressures seems very fitting. Tiresias appears, and is full of enigmatic forebodings. Hans Kesting as Oedipus draws attention continually, and Marieke Heebink as Jocasta is always a powerful and influential presence. The tension increases as we move towards the denouemont, and we know what terrible revelations there will be. The modern family tensions add to the credibility of the whole.
There is a positive gay slant, as one of the sons outs the other as gay, and Oedipus is supportive of his son, and says that this does not affect the love he feels for him. Overall, this is an Oedipus with whom you can feel solidarity; he had his wild days, and a fatal accident, but there is much we can value in him. And he is little worse than many politicians.
Robert Icke says that he finds that the British system in the theatre “infantalises actors.” He prefers to show them more respect, so that writer and director are not so powerful, and everyone’s ideas can get a hearing. Certainly, the company of actors here come across as strong personalities, each one firmly holding our attention. I was completely gripped by this production throughout the two hours.
This play has a short run here, and there is much to be said for fitting in a visit to the King’s Theatre to experience world class theatre in the form of this Oedipus.