The audience for Spymonkey’s production of Oedipussy is populated by an eclectic mix who, sartorially, are understated – with the odd pair of red trousers thrown in! As they sit, they are faced with Michael Vale’s contemporary white set, a modernist take on classical Greek colonnades crossed with 70s Ladderax shelving, with a brazen colour wash lighting plan by Phil Supple completing the minimalist picture.
The performance begins with the four actors walking on stage in a sort of prologue; a delicious send-up of the critic from the Scotsman who didn’t remain nameless. Joyce Macmillan may well be pleased with her moment of theatrical notoriety, for her scathing review of the previous Spymonkey production, Moby Dick, as the actors here read the worst of her published comments getting us off to a fine tongue-in-cheek start.
Then the mayhem begins and it doesn’t ever let up, not even at the brutal, bloody end of this tale. Spymonkey turns classical Greek drama into a madcap Monty Python-esque mixture of Benny Hill meets the Carry On team and that’s only the beginning. Throw in anarchic asides and a curious Greek chorus, performed by the finest actor/circus clowns working today, and allow the audience to play along (a little bit). Let the performers become narrators of their own lives, as well as telling the familiar story and serve immediately. Best consumed very hot!
This is a very naughty, sexy Oedipus, as indicated by the reworded title. There are numerous characters portrayed throughout, with special mention going to Aitor Basauri’s depiction of the pederast, Laius, Stephan Kreiss playing a horny 17 year old Oedipus with quite extraordinary and hilarious authenticity and Petra Massey as a topsy-turvy Sphinx, with a cat’s head atop her naked body. Sheer joy abounds with the sexual merry-go-round facing us on stage, and occasionally spilling into the front row of the audience.
Toby Park's musicianship vies with his superb comic characterisations, such as his early Bowie, Ziggy Stardust in full gorgeous 70s purple rock-drag and platform shoes. All this is interspersed with wonderful stand-up asides from each of the four actors, in character, as sort of bitches from hell versions of themselves.
The spirits of the great slapstick and sexualised comedians live on in this terrific production, masterfully corralled by director Emma Rice. The unbelievably energetic, supple and multi-talented cast made the fastest of quick changes into and out of Lucy Bradridge’s witty and ingenious costumes and are supported by Neil Filby’s glorious compositions - including the superb Leprosy’s Not Funny, which is performed as an audience sing-along.
As we get our breath back from the incredibly dramatic and bloody ending, still drying our eyes from laughter, the audience leap to their feet to offer a standing ovation and riotous cheers for this fantastically irreverent, superbly performed and incredibly comical show.