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Oedipus Retold at The Tristan Bates Theatre

OedipusJack Klaff leads an outstanding cast for this double bill by former Times theatre critic Jeremy Kingston

Oedipus Retold is a double bill of Oedipus The King, a new translation of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos alongside Oedipus at the Crossroads, an imaginative, thought-provoking re-telling of the original story. Translated, adapted and written by Jeremy Kingston and directed by Robert Gillespie

Starring Jack Klaff, Judi Scott, David Shaw Parker, Steve Watts, Richard Earthy, Tom Shepherd, Clare Cameron and Luke Hornsby-Smith.

What is so wrong about having children with your mother?

And why is Oedipus punished with such a horror? Is there a flaw in his character, or have the gods become his enemy? Jeremy Kingston’s witty, intelligent and provocative translation of Sophocles and his own shrewd, comic re-working of the tale in Oedipus at the Crossroads considers whether something might be missing.  Both plays focus on that fateful encounter between young Oedipus and his father at a fork in the road, but Jeremy’s explanation of the events behind this world famous story are as different from the Greek as you can imagine.

Writer Jeremy Kingston said: “In Ancient Greece so many things have either no explanation or a number of equally valid explanations that the idea of man’s destiny being in the lap of the gods cuts several ways. It keeps people in line, checking their behavior; it’s a help for living the right life, and of course, kings can exploit it to bully, as can popes, businessmen and soldiers. The story of Oedipus The King is widely celebrated but what would have happened if at that fateful encounter at the crossroads Oedipus and his father had discovered each other’s identity and begun to work out the hidden purpose of the prophesy dooming Oedipus to kill his father and marry his mother?

Director Robert Gillespie comments: “At the very time Jeremy sent Crossroads in to the King’s Head, I was making notes about an enquiry into the events narrated in Oedipus Tyrannos by Sophocles.  It had struck me that if the silly buggers (his parents) hadn’t listened to the Oracle, none of the awful events would have happened. In other words, if individuals, society, the whole culture hadn’t been gripped by absurd superstition they could have led straightforward, productive, happy lives. The power of the double bill we are presenting rests on observing the unfolding of an inexplicable tragedy (a classic in Western art) followed by a logical, comic, elucidation of why the events occurred, how they could have been avoided and who is responsible for the horror.

For ten years Jeremy Kingston was the theatre critic on Punch and then for 25 years one of the theatre critics on The Times.  His play Making Dickie Happy, where the characters included Noel Coward, Agatha Christie and Lord Mountbatten was revived at the Tristan Bates Theatre to critical acclaim in March 2013.  Oedipus at the Crossroads was first performed at the King’s Head, Islington, with Nicky Henson as Oedipus, and is now revived at the Tristan Bates. He is the author of a novel, Love Among the Unicorns, and two children’s books.  His first poetry collection, On the Lookout was published by Hearing Eye in 2008 and his second collection, Who is he, Who am I, Who are they? by Playdead Press this December 2013.

Director Robert Gillespie is mainly associated with new writing, contributing seventeen productions at the founding of the King’s Head Theatre, most of them world premieres. Robert is probably best known as a TV sit-com actor, and starred as Dudley Rush in five series of Keep it in the Family. He’s also been in everything from Likely Lads to Butterflies to Liver Birds to Dad’s Army to Rising Damp to Porridge to George And Mildred and he appeared as Gilbert Herring in Bonjour La Classe. As a writer, Robert contributed to TV’s That Was The Week That Was; especially A Consumer’s Guide To Religion (performed by David Frost) which provoked a fulminating clergyman and questions in the House.

Jack Klaff is a writer, actor, director and academic whose first movie role was in Star Wars. His first television gig (an episode of The Sweeney) also featured Morecambe and Wise, while his London stage début led to seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company. During his career he has garnered over 200 television credits, and has held four visiting professorships at Princeton University. He’s received two Sony Silver certificates for radio acting, a Tinniswood nomination for new writing, the Jack Hargreaves Award for Innovative TV Drama, two Fringe Firsts, a Herald Archangel Award (2010), a Three Weeks Editors’ Choice award and an Ocean Swell medal (2013).

David Shaw-Parker trained at RADA in 1975 and began his career at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1977 appearing in over twenty five productions between then and 1991, returning in 2013 to play The Old Shepherd in The Winter’s Tale. He has appeared at The National Theatre in Oedipus Rex, The False Servant and My Fair Lady and in London’s West End in Grand Hotel, The Country Wife, Acorn Antiques, Heavenly Ivy, Up n’ Under, A Dead Secret and Cyrano de Bergerac. Films include Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka, Uberto Pasolini’s Still Life and The Muppets’ Christmas Carol.

Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes including interval | Suitable for Ages: 12+

www.janenightwork.com @janenightwork @oedipusx2

Company Information
Director:  Robert Gillespie, Writer:  Jeremy Kingston, Designer:  Faye Bradley,
Oedipus the King: Oedipus – Tom Shepherd, Kreon – Jack Klaff, Tiresias – Richard Earthy, Shepherd – David Shaw-Parker, Priest/Corinthian – Steve Watts, Jocasta/Servant – Clare Cameron, Chorus 1 – Judi Scott, Chorus 2 – Luke Hornsby-Smith
Oedipus at The Crossroads: Oedipus – Tom Shepherd, Laius – Jack Klaff, Tiresias – Richard Earthy, Shepherd (POLYPHONTES) – David Shaw-Parker, Soldier (CHRYSIPPUS) – Clare Cameron, Attendant – Luke Hornsby-Smith

Listings Information
Tristan Bates Theatre, The Actors Centre, 1a Tower Street, London WC2H 9HP
14th Jan – 8th Feb 2014, Tues – Sat at 7.30pm, Sun at 3pm
Tickets £16 (£14 concs.) 020 7240 6283

Monday 9th December 2013


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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