These two echoes of ancient classical warfare represent theatre productions inspired by a brilliant, comic rewriting – by Jeremy Kingston – of the sad, old tale of poor young Oedipus. The poor lad’s mum and dad listened to the mumblings of a religious oracle and put their precious baby son and heir out on a mountain to die.
Oedipus at the Crossroads was so successful in its first incarnation at the King’s Head Theatre that I looked for ways of producing it in a double bill with Sophocles’ original tragedy, Oedipus Tyrannos (or Oedipus the King). It took a long time, because it takes longer to get things on when you have no power – and you are using your own money.
We had our first go at it at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, Islington and then, with a fully professional cast, made a very decent fist of it at the Tristan Bates theatre in 2013 – Natalie Haynes dropped in and at one of her talks, which I attended, said she liked it – I’m delighted to say. She mentioned, in particular, that in Crossroads, when Oedipus and his dad meet they have a chat – instead of trying to murder each other.
These garishly daubed bits of cheap plastic standing in for proper bronze props took their punishment remarkably well through the choreographed fight we staged.