More London Free Festival: Oedipus and Antigone

Theatre, Drama Free
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More London Free Festival: Oedipus and Antigone

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


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We went to see the 8pm show "Oedipus and Antigone" on Thursday and really enjoyed it. I wasn't familiar with the story beforehand so it was a good chance to watch the play for the first time. It was nice to be sat outside on a such a pleasant evening and enjoy the show for free. If you have a spare evening and it's nice weather then I would highly recommend heading down to the scoop and seeing the show while it's still on.

FANTASTIC! We were there from 18:00 and I loved all of them. The first plat "Prince of Thebes" was for a younger audience but "Oedipus and Antigone" was for older audiences and they were brilliant. I couldn't believe such a brilliant show could be preformed for free. It was an amazing experience to be sitting on the edge of my seat utterly absorbed into the dramatic and moving plays in the center of London on such a beautiful summer evening. The acting was some of the best I've ever seen and Oedipus in particular really grabbed the audience. I'm so happy I found out about these performances and will definitely spread the word to everyone I meet. Brilliant.

As a comprehensive school boy I have never seen these plays before but thought they were excellent-highly recommend on a summers evening. Would be nice to see some of our inner city school children there and not so many tourists! Maybe we can just charge the tourists like in China?

Lemon, if you saw Antigone last weekend you would have seen the actor who's playing Creon whilst Phil Willmott's away. Maybe that did de-stable things a little but by the time I saw the shows on Sunday night (my 4th visit - it's that good!) he was on cracking form. I'm amazed to read you thought there's no variety. There's lovely visual moments and comedy through out and, for me, the mixture of poetic and modern language you didn't like brings real depth to the characters. A perfect combi for a two thousand year old play performed amongst very modern architecture. OK, I'm a big fan so I'm biassed but - big crowd completely absorbed.

I hate to do this but I haven't seen a show this bad in 5 years. It was free and that doesn't even take any of the sting away. They couldn't decide whether they were modernising the scripts or not which resulted in this weird mix of modern and old which was difficult to palate. Canned cheering? Really? And why did the entire cast of Antigone look like detectives? Whoever cast that actor as Creon needs shooting, he had about as much stage presence as a snail. The idea was lovely, I was so excited, only to snigger pretty much the whole way through at how tragically bad it was. The flow was bad, there was no variation in the dynamic, there was no rise and fall in the emotions of the piece. It's quite difficult to ruin some of the greatest plays ever written but they made a mockery out of two wonderful Greek tragedies and that's harder to do that than they made it look. I have never been so underwhelmed and so outraged by a piece of theatre.

I saw this last night, it was absolutely amazing. Initially I was a bit disappointed by their costumes, but they were used effectively and I got over such an aesthetic concern. The actors were all brilliant and managed to really draw me into the emotion of the tragedy. I even cried a little! An amazing show! Opportunities to see plays like this must really be taken advantage of! Especially since it was free! They do request any small donations or the purchase of a program to help towards funding future projects, but there's no obligation so anyone that's a bit skint can still benefit from their interpretation of one of the most famous of the classic plays.

Watched the 6pm performance of the Prince of Thebes which enchanted both the children and mainly adult audience. A talented group of actors kept a good paced story going interspersed with comedy and some amazing singing. This was a hugely enjoyable piece of free street theatre in a modern space next to City Hall in the shadow of Tower Bridge. The finale was a musical piece and the children in the audience were invited to join the actors which was a lovely end to a memorable experience. Highly recommended.

The performances have been going on for 11 years, yet it is the first time we have been and what a worthwhile evening this has turned out to be. The diversity and complexity these actors were able to achieve was beyond any expectations. An old greek play in a modern amphitheatre seemed so at place and experiencing this with a full crowd by the side of fully lit tower bridge is something no one should miss. Highly recommended!