Paradise in Augustine's
1 - 19 August

  It's worth taking the occasional chance on a student company at the fringe, but with this show my gamble didn't pay off. Oedipus, The Hour is a dim-witted take on Sophocles' classic which has seemingly been put together with very little understanding.

  The decision to translate (or rather, approximate) the original into rhyming couplets would be questionable in the most reliable of hands, and here it goes predictably, disastrously awry as lines are dogged by the bathos of wrenched syntax and poor rhyming.

  Their Oedipus is actually quite good - a suited, city-slicked type who has the right words for the situation (even if they do rhyme atrociously). The chorus, sourced from the silly voices hall of fame, have less to recommend them, and often overdo their chosen vocal tics so much as to render themselves inaudible.

  Although Oedipus is one of the best-constructed plots in the history of drama, the changes incorporated by the company, particularly to the end, which sees Oedipus briefly reunited with his children, and forgiven by Creon, mangle the piece's emotions and humanise the characters to an inappropriately soppy level.

  A couple of nice touches -- particularly the silhouette sex scene as Oedipus reaches the apex of his ignorance - punctuate the relentless mismanagement, but ultimately this play is as far from redemption as Oedipus himself.