BWW Reviews: OEDIPUSSY, Rose Theatre, October 16 2013

Sure, it's Oedipus, but, somehow, they even squeeze a bit of Morris dancing in!

Spymonkey's retelling of Oedipus Rex defies description - it's part Greek tragedy, part slapstick comedy, part musical theatre and part standup show. There's a bit of James Bond at the beginning and quite a lot of Barbarella throughout. But, if it resembles anything at all, it's most like one of Ernie Wise's "plays what I wrote" that saw Eric and Ernie goofing around with Glenda Jackson or Diana Rigg who would do all they could not to corpse - but fail. I almost felt the ghost of Christmas dinners past stirring in my stomach...

Those setpieces were much loved of course and Oedipussy is just as silly, funny and surreal they were - but never so surreal that the the clowning gives way to arched eyebrowed smartarsery (though it does get close). And, because it sticks fairly closely Sophocles' original, it's a great story too - for all the digressions and diversions.

Spymonkey have been doing this stuff for years and it shows. Each actor/performer is comfortable in their own skin - and there's quite a bit of skin on show - and each has a running gag about a minor personal insecurity to offset the rather major personal insecurites of Oedipus, Jocasta and co. They all have such a lot of fun and their infectious enthusiasms, and occasionally the actors themselves, spread all over the audience.

Perhaps the only bum note (on a night when there were a few bums on display), was whether the venue was just a little too large for such an intimate feelgood show. The performers make use of every inch of the stage - and then some - but laughing is a shared experience best enjoyed in crowded spaces. And it'll take a lot to sell as many seats as the Rose Theatre accommodates in its semicircular sweep.

Best way to solve that problem is to go along and catch the show yourself. If so, the only scratching of your eyes you'll be doing is to wipe away the tears of laughter.

Oedipussy continues at the Rose Theatre, Kingston until 19 October.

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From This Author Gary Naylor

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