The inevitability to escape ones fate is the theme of many great Greek tragedies. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or god fearing or even if you try to counteract a prophecy of the gods. You will suffer what you have been dealt despite and sometimes because of your best efforts.
One of the best examples is without a doubt Oedipus. The young man comes to Thebes right after the king had died. He marries the widowed queen, has two daughters with her and plans to live happily ever after, as he has just outwitted a terrifying prophecy that had warned him he’d kill his father and marry his mother – but both are alive and well at home.
Only Thebes keeps suffering. And the oracle insists that he has to find the killer of the late king. He vows to do so, not knowing that his wife had given up her baby son because of a prophecy telling that said son would kill his father and marry his mother…
When Oedipus realises what he had done, he claws out his eyes, the last picture he takes with him into eternal darkness his wife and mother who had hanged herself in desperation.
The setting was amazing. They used the choir to depict high ranking citizens and had both Oedipus (Gord Rand) and Kreon (Christopher Morris) address the audience. That was helped of course by the business man/woman attire the characters wore. And which was a stark and shocking contrast to the nudity of Oedipus after he blinds himself, or the transgender character of Theiresias (Nigel Bennett) who pranced around the stage in 12 cm high heels in turquoise and lots of chiming bling on his arms and around his neck. I thought the idea to present the Seer, the voice of the oracle as a transgender (or flamboyantly gay man complete with gorgeous lipstick) genial. No matter if it was a nod towards the ancient Greeks’ love and tolerance of affection and relationships between men or an even better look into native American peoples where gay or transgender people were said to inhabit two souls and were thus sacred, the way Theiresias was depicted here was simply awesome. Of course it helped that Nigel Bennett clearly loved to strut around and yet keep his commanding stage presence. The little klicks he uttered in order to orient himself by echo were also a brilliant idea – the audience heard him before he entered the stage and judged by the reaction of the actors that he’s powerful and possibly dangerous, so the impact of his entrance was even greater.
That said it was a truly remarkable evening – watching great actors create a dark and hopeless world.