BEKAH-MIRON CLAYTON is indelibly impressed by this bold and unnerving production.
Corpus Playroom, 7pm, Tue 12th – Sat 16th November, £6/5
The sheer brilliance of director Ella Konzon and assistant director Connie Bennett’s interpretation of Berkoff’s Greek was reflected by my unintelligible notes – I could barely tear my eyes away from the action on stage to make them remotely legible. The production was teeming with intelligence and offered deep and complex human philosophies under the guise of shallow, quick moving dialogue. The main character Eddie’s stream of mundane yet deeply insightful social commentary framed the production, creating a whirlwind of ideas that stayed with me even after I had left the theatre.
Within the play the classic tale of Oedipus, who murdered his father and slept with his mother, is flung from ancient Greece into the riots, filth and decay of London. The brutality of such a bold storyline was injected into this brash performance from the onset, as members of the cast hurled abuse and strong language at the audience creating an intimidation that certainly caused me, as an audience member, to lean back in my seat. All aspects of this performance were turned up to full voltage, as every actor on stage gave a strong performance with no discrepancy in energy levels between those in main roles and those participating within the chorus. However, the acting of the main characters was truly brilliant. The brutally honest and heart-wrenchingly believable performance of Alasdair McNab as Eddie’s father particularly stood out.
Physicality formed a strong part within the production, as the cast (crude, caricatured and unsettling) transformed themselves into domestic furniture, fairground attractions, a sphinx, plagued London, and a writhing mass of hedonistic pleasure. Particularly prominent was a moment where an obscene sexual dream was described to the audience by Eddie whilst on a train journey, as the chorus mounted to a crescendo of orgasmic vocalisations. At another point the play explored the role of women, as it was proclaimed that ‘To love is to enslave a woman’, which was followed with an innovatively choreographed sequence of puppet or marionette-style movements. This perhaps insinuated and even promoted the domestic entrapment of women, as the main character proceeded to describe his favourite ‘parts’ of the female form and their ultimate purpose.
Clearly with the advertisement line, “I wanna climb back inside my mum. What’s wrong with that?” the production was going to be bold and I was prepared for this. However, the strangely repulsive and unwelcome honesty of the whole production was physically and mentally unsettling, and the intrusive nature of the performance engaged the audience on a raw and intimate level. The explicit scenes of sex, violence, abuse and the horrifying depiction of love and the role of women within marriage all gave the production incredible impact. Berkoff’s Greek was exalted by the production team and the talents of every single actor involved. There is evidently real talent here, and I urge you that this production is not one to be missed.