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Oedipus Electronica | Brixton House

Oedipus Electronica is a modern day telling of the famous Greek tragedy - and it feels as violent and eerie as the original.

Set to the backdrop of modern day London and a looming writing deadline, Jocasta sets aside her ectopic pregnancy and her full hysterectomy procedure in order to get a story out. A story that blurs reality and fiction, until Jocasta is fully immersed in a future she desperately wants but that reality says is not possible.

This story of what could have been is heightened by intense and impressive lighting design by Clare O’Donoghue and Tanya Stephenson, and music by Pecho Mama. Combining handheld spotlights and strobing lights, the effect is a sense of urgency and erraticness. The live music element brings the show to a whole new level, creating live atmospheric and emotive music that blends beautifully with the action on stage. You forget it’s there until a drum beat and a double bass chord brings you back to the intensity of it all. A quick warning here that anyone with sensory issues might want to skip out, as the show features a lot of strobe lighting and a lot of yelling.

Additionally, the acting from all characters is very fervent and emotional. Mella Faye writes, directs and performs, weaving reality and fantasy seamlessly as Jocasta. Kwame Bentil plays the most sympathetic character, the sensible and incredibly supportive husband, Laius. And power takes the form of Ryan David Harston, who plays the title character of Oedipus.

While the acting is overall very solid, the issue comes in the characterisation of these people. Each character feels underdeveloped and slightly stereotypical. There is the grieving mother who can’t let go of the feeling that her dead infant is still alive, fully grown and out there waiting for them. There is the 28 year old son, who without his biological parents there to protect him, has gotten caught up with the wrong crowd, sells drugs and is capable of killing because he lives on a knife's edge. Then there is the supportive and patient husband, who tries to get his wife the medical attention she needs and also tries to get her to see reality. All feel real but quite stereotypical, with the only nuance being the classic Oedipus storyline, which as audience members we know is coming.

The lack of nuance and character development means we’re thrown into this violent and intense fantasy without much to hold on to. The character of Oedipus also is incredibly emotional, with a lot of shouting throughout the play. And one can’t help but cringe a bit at the very stereotypical angry black man character, who feels, yet again, unable to control his own story.

It all feels slightly uncomfortable. The show is dedicated to every parent who has lost a child, so sitting in the uncomfortableness is probably intentional. The show aims to showcase a contemporary female perspective in its sensual and carnal and creative glory. But sometimes that perspective makes you want to avert your eyes. Ultimately you can’t. And that’s just the way they like it.

Oedipus Electronica runs at Brixton House until 9th March. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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