Oedipus adapted and directed by Sean Graney
The Hypocrites at The Building Stage
If you are looking for a production that embodies many of the challenges posed by this blog about how to make theatre compete with digital entertainment, this is production more than rises to the occasion. Sean Graney's staging of the classic story of Oedipus inserts the audience directly in the path of the tragedy; literally. Three actors perform all the roles in this story that lasts about an hour, so you have the satisfaction of getting in and getting out while taking something really great with you.
The experience, however, begins the moment you enter the theatre. The design is something of an apocalyptic waste land meets Alice in Wonderland creating both a stark and playground sense at the same time. The audience sits on the set on benches and picnic tables and is invited to play with the cast by hitting balloons to each other.
The curtain speech is perhaps the most thrilling I have ever heard. An actor stands on a table an announces that the audience will be directly in the path of the action. That the actors will be crossing though them and the audience is encouraged to move around to get the view that they want to observe the play from. "We can see that you are here. Please don't pretend as though you are not here." The actors are kind enough to point so as to indicate where they are going with their blocking by which the audience will clear a path for them. The audience was completely willing to go along with the process and never indicated that they were uncomfortable being inserted into the drama. The cast .
If you are looking for a production that really pushes the boundaries and asks challenges the conventions of theatre, this is it. More companies need to be doing this kind of work to create a unique experience for their audience. For any person who has even a remote interest in theatre, you cannot afford to miss this production.
It was on this day in 1613 that Shakespeare's Globe Theatre burned down.