I’m a God, Apollo, but I was tipped; On a rubbish tip inside this manuscript; I’ve spent two thousand years asleep; On an Oxyrhynchus rubbish heap.
This new production, commissioned by the Finborough Theatre, marks the rediscovery of Tony Harrison’s The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus in its first London staging for nearly 30 years. Director Jimmy Walters returns to the Finborough Theatre following his acclaimed production of John Osborne’s A Subject of Scandal and Concern.
Egypt, 1907. Two archaeologists, Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt, are searching for ancient fragments of poetry and plays, next to an old rubbish heap, when the Greek God, Apollo, descends from the skies. Apollo is furious that they have failed to unearth the fragmentary text of a lost satyr play by Sophocles. As he forces the two papyrologists to find the lost play, Grenfell and Hunt become part of the story they have discovered.
Multi-award-winning poet and playwright Tony Harrison remakes the ancient Greek original into a play for our times. Originally written to follow performances of all the great Greek tragedies, the satyr play is a short tragicomedy featuring a chorus with goat-like features and erect phalluses. It is an essential and often neglected part of ancient Greek theatre.
The cast is led by Tom Purbeck who will take on the role of Bernard Grenfell (BBC’s Hollow Crown 2, Tyrant, Clan Of The Cave Bear), Richard Gloves as Arthur Hunt (King Charles III, Oh What A Lovely War!, Enjoy), Peta Cornish as Kyllene (After October, Future Conditional, ITV’s William & Mary), and Dylan Mason as Hermes (The Wind in the Willows, Wonder.land, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus also welcomes their very own cast of satyrs including: Adam Small, Dannie Pie, James Rigby, Nik Drake, Sacha Mandel.
The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus was initially intended as a one-off performance in 1988 in the ancient stadium of Delphi with a cast including Jack Shepherd, Barrie Rutter and Juliet Stevenson. It was subsequently seen at the National Theatre in 1990.
Playwright Tony Harrison has written extensively for the National Theatre, New York Metropolitan Opera, BBC, Channel 4, Royal Shakespeare Company, and for ancient spaces in Greece, Austria, and Japan. His volumes of poetry include The Loiners (Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize), v. (Royal Television Society Award), The Gaze of the Gorgon (Whitbread Prize for Poetry) and Laureate’s Block. His film Black Daisies for the Bride won the 1994 Prix Italia. He was awarded the PEN/Pinter Prize 2009, the European Prize for Literature 2010 and the David Cohen Prize for Literature 2015.
The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus is presented by Proud Haddock in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.
The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus
Performance Dates Tuesday 3rd January – Saturday 28th January 2017
Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm
Saturday and Sunday matinees, 3pm (not 7th January)
Running time Approximately 75 minutes
Location Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED