Monday, February 20, 2012

'Oedipussy' by Spymonkey

20 February 2012

One of the most difficult challenges for any artist is how to respond to a particularly bad review. Australian comedian Tim Minchin (reviewed here in November 2008) famously wrote a vitriolic song about the Guardian reviewer Phil Daoust ("occasional Guardian newspaper journal-oust"). Now physical theatre company Spymonkey’s response to a bad review by Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman (and particularly her reference to them as a “bunch of middle-aged actors”) is to create a gloriously silly rendering of ‘Oedipus Rex’ in the style of a 1970s James Bond film which plays on the theme of ageing. As they say at the beginning of ‘Oedipussy’ - “this one’s for you Joyce McMillan!”. We were at the Royal Theatre in Northampton on Saturday to see the last night of ‘Oedipussy’ – a Spymonkey production in association with the Royal & Derngate Northampton, written by Carl Grose and the cast and directed and adapted by Emma Rice. I had loved the visual humour and stagecraft of two previous Emma Rice productions – ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ at the National Theatre (reviewed here in May 2007) and ‘Brief Encounter’ which I also saw at the Royal Theatre, Northampton and this show (her first with Spymonkey) had a similarly inventive approach. Spymonkey are a wonderful quartet of physical actors and clowns who spend much of the show stepping out of character to complain about their aliments and moan about their colleagues. Their re-telling of ‘Oedipus Rex’ (I loved that Sophocles gets a biography in the programme which says he “has several projects in development including a rock opera of his ‘Philoctetes with Einsturzende Neubauten and a sitcom treatment for Baby Cow”) is chaotic and confused with the actors often arguing amongst themselves. This is a physical theatre version of The National Theatre of Brent. There were some great visual gags: why is there nothing so funny as someone trying to walk through a narrow space while wearing headgear that is too wide for the space?! And the show finishes with the most hilarious suicide by hanging that you are ever likely to see on stage! ‘Oedipussy’ was incredibly silly and I suspect most people would either love it or hate it but I was grinning throughout, except for when I was laughing raucously – and many of the audience ended the evening in unstoppable hysterics.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home