Nobody could accuse Steam Industry Free Theatre of not giving us value for money. ‘Oedipus and Antigone’ isn’t one play, but two, being condensed versions of Sophocles’s great tragedies ‘Oedipus Rex’ and ‘Antigone’, separated by a 15-minute-interval and staged as the main event in Steam Industry’s summer stand at the Scoop.
It’s a bit of an odd move in some respects – the two plays have different casts of characters and the abrupt change in time and scenario is jolting (and probably confusing if you’re unfamiliar with the stories). It might have made more sense to swap ‘Antigone’ for ‘Oedipus at Colonus’, thus completing the story of Oedipus (whose juvenile adventures are covered in Steam Industry’s separate kids’ show ‘Prince of Thebes’ which runs earlier in the evening).
What you do get, though, is a very professional company performing two of the greatest plays every written, for free, so let’s not split hairs. ‘Oedipus’ is a bit stiffer and more bombastic, as Philip Scott-Wallace, recognisable as an oilier, nastier version of the cheesy young hero we met in ‘Prince of Thebes’, rails arrogantly against the mounting evidence that his wife Jocasta is also his mother.
‘Antigone’ is funnier, more intimate and more emotional, as if adaptor Lisa Kuma – apparently the pseudonym for a well-know playwright who did the job gratis – put a little more time and love in to the job. Lucy Cudden makes a fiery impression in the title role, while Phil Willmott is intriguingly low key and mild as the tyrannical Creon.
A very solid evening, and if you’ve never seen these plays before, you really have no excuse for not handing over your £0.00.
By Andrzej Lukowski