Theatre Review: On the Misconceptions of Oedipus – Perth Theatre Company (07.09.12)

Many will undoubtedly be familiar with the Oedipus myth, even if only in passing; we have Freud to thank for that. On the Misconception of Oedipus posits itself before the events of the famous play by Sophocles or Seneca; a prequel of sorts. But it’s also a meditation on fate and the shadow it casts over the lives of the characters.

We are introduced first to Oedipus (Richard Pyros) with the audience quickly brought up to speed with his life, through a confessional soliloquy. It’s delivered briskly, with a sense of youthful urgency, enthusiasm tinged with a sense of menace.

The audience are next introduced to Oedipus’ parents Jocasta (Natasha Herbert) and Laius (Daniel Schlusser). Their duelling and interweaving dialogue is one of the more confronting and striking moments within the play. The audience bears witness to the evolution and dissolution of the couple’s relationship, with Jocasta coming to resent and even hope for the birth of the son is “fated” to kill her husband.

These compelling and striking opening scenes are interrupted with the hyper realised murder of Laius. Before the play culminates in some mildly baffling post coital banter between mother and son. There is no obvious sense of resolution to the play; it’s not clear whether either realise who the other is.

Herbert, Schlusser and Pyros each deliver performances that are absorbing and charismatic. I particularly enjoyed the dichotomy that developed between the Jocasta and Laius, with each character falling on opposite sides of the philosophical argument surrounding the influence of fate, with both falling into an impressive eloquent rhythm.

On the Misconceptions of Oedipus is an intelligent and engrossing reimaging of the Oedipus myth. I found myself leaving the play with plenty of questions, slowly developing my own interpretation of the events. This is surely the sign of good play, one that leaves you questioning, not to mention one that stays in your mind long after the curtain falls.

On the Misconceptions of Oedipus is presented by the Perth Theatre Company in cooperation with Malthouse Theatre and runs to the 15th September at the State Theatre Centre of WA.

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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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