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Oedipus Retold - Tristan Bates Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

TRANSLATED, adapted and written by former Times theatre critic Jeremy Kingston, Oedipus Retold runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre from January 16 (previews from January 14) to February 8, 2014.

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.

Jack Klaff leads a cast that also includes 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 Kingston’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 behaviour; 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?”

Oedipus retold is directed by Robert Gillespie, who said: “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.”

Tickets: £16, £14 concessions – available from the box office on 020 7240 6283 or online at

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Sunday at 3pm.