MADEUP had headed to Oedipussy with high hopes. You’ve got to love a silly play on words; you’ve got to love a company that sees some kind of potential in mashing up a Greek tragedy with classic Bond. They must know what they’re doing… don’t they…?
Who knows. Spymonkey, for it is they, is a very well-known and well-respected theatre company after all, currently working with and influencing Liverpool companies as well as being one of those names people know up and down the UK. But it surely could not have achieved what it might have hoped with this ambitous, yet ultimately charmless work.
Taking as its inspiration the story of Oedipus (recap: fated to marry his mother and kill his father), it tackled one of the great stories. However, there was a bit of a problem straight from the off, in that despite the interesting idea behind it, the show was in no measure funny, dramatic or engaging enough to work on any level (and where the Bond thing came in, who really knows). In fact, it’s hard to think of production in recent years that has missed the mark at this venue so badly.
A simple set is fine if the direction suits and the style is similar; yet working against a backdrop that looked little more than a collection of Ikea Billy bookcases while the cast opted for OTT fur or sequinned numbers did not help matters. A short recurring gag about visiting the oracle worked quite nicely, and added an original touch of which there should have been more.
The cast of four seemed to be working together only out of necessity; Aitor Basauri and Stephan Kriess appeared to milk laughs generally by virtue of not being British; Petra Massey, who appeared in the buff at one point, seemed to only be funny because she wasn’t a man, and Toby Park got away with your usual middle-class-white-boy schtick.
They each took a turn to break character as the show progressed, but this would have only really worked if the audience had cared for the difference. This was all, sorry to say, painfully disappointing, if only because Park is one of the co-directors of the rather wonderful The Games, the touring show from Spike Theatre that comes to the Unity later this month.
It can only be concluded that if you’re going to see one show this March that features grown men running about in togas and flashing their bits in a bid to entertain, The Games at the Unity is what you want. Otherwise, Oedipussy is on til Saturday.