Review - 'Oedipus' at National Theatre starring Ralph Fiennes 2008
Opened 15 Oct 2008
Written: by Sophocles, in a new version by Frank McGuinness
Directed: Jonathan Kent
Cast: Ralph Fiennes (Oedipus), Alan Howard (Teiresias), Clare Higgins (Jocasta)
Synopsis: The people of Thebes look to Oedipus to lift a terrible curse from them and their city. He consults the oracle and learns that he must root out the late king’s murderer. But his relentless interrogation of one man after another leads inexorably, and in the space of a single day, to his own savage conclusion.
What the popular press had to say.....
NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "It is an evening of many flaws, but as Fiennes demonstrates, Oedipus remains irresistibly terrifying." JOHN THAXTER for THE STAGE says, "The new text by Frank McGuinness, a shrewd combination of the colloquial, the brutal and the heroic, gives us a Sophoclean tragedy for our times, vividly matched by Jonathan Kent’s epic staging in sharp, modern dress." TIM MASTERS for BBC ONLINE says, "Ralph Fiennes is an impressive Oedipus." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Maybe the revival is more awesome than moving, but maybe that’s what the tale of the self-destruction of a well-meaning but flawed tyrant should be. It’s also visually impressive, despite boasting no decor but one mighty bronze door, some fleetingly glimpsed trees, and, weirdly, a long trestle table round which gather 14 men who wear dark suits but no ties and themselves vaguely resemble bankers on their uppers." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "Despite the wealth of talent on stage, I left this Oedipus feeling that a great masterpiece had been seriously shortchanged." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Jonathan Kent opts for sharp modern suits and language of brutal simplicity...Kent's production is propulsive, clear and strongly cast...this is a production that succeeds because it shows Oedipus not as the gods' puppet but as a man whose suffering is related to his character flaws; which is a classic definition of tragedy." KATE BASSETT for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Frank McGuinness's new translation is achingly beautiful, with an extraordinary simple eloquence, almost the poetic equivalent of plainsong."
Production Photo by Catherine Ashmore