Description: The story of Oedipus is well-known: Oedipus, King of Thebes, discovers that he has - unknowingly - slept with his mother and murdered his father. These horrific revelations lead him to gouge his eyes out, a shocking and graphic act of self-harm and sensory deprivation. Since the playwright could count on the audience's familiarity with the basic plot, the skill in both the script and its delivery by the cast comes in how the terrible tale is told.
in situ specialise in ‘environmental theatre' - productions in interesting, outdoor settings. I can't think of a more suitable choice for this play than the 12th century Leper Chapel, with its history of disease and ostracism. The first 10 minutes of the production take place outside the chapel, the audience encouraged to move around and listen to the different viewpoints presented by the blind-folded cast. One actor tells Oedipus' family history, another gives background on Greek tragedy, a third discusses Freud's ‘Oedipus complex'.
It's when the audience follows the cast into the chapel, however, that the originality of the company comes into its own. The role of Oedipus is passed around the company, and other parts step in and out of their communal role as the chorus of Theban citizens, inflicted in this production by a plague of madness. Lines of poetry are broken up between them, sound and meaning bouncing around the claustrophobic space as they writhe and twitch. Words become music: the p's of ‘prophecies' spat, the s's of ‘suspicions' hissed. Choruses are built up in layers; laments rise up; men wail great ululations of mourning.