Thursday, 19 April 2012

Theatre review: Oedipussy

The word "silly" could serve as the full review of Spymonkey's Oedipussy, which opens with the cast of four lamenting a negative review of their previous show. Having been criticised for being too frivolous for their age (the cast are in their forties and fifties) they announce they'll be taking on the much more serious topic of classical Greek tragedy. But Sophocles probably didn't have this in mind as the company's take on the Oedipus myth is frantic, ridiculous, and very funny. Aitor Basauri, Stephan Kreiss, Petra Massey and Toby Park, a multinational cast with seemingly no embarrassment threshold, spend the next couple of hours strutting around in nappies, taking on all the characters and coming up with endless physical comedy and creative use of props.

Though the show is very much about the company's demented style, rather than entirely devise the play Spymonkey have wisely also used a writer (Carl Grose) and director (Emma Rice) to help shape the madness and stop the show from becoming self-indulgent. It's a hard show to review because it's just a barrage of silly ideas, and almost any detail would constitute a spoiler. But there's a lot of falling over, people getting stuck in the set and their costumes, an unexpectedly hilariousSEVERE VADGE WARNINGand some Bond theme inspired, overwrought musical interludes.

The opening review's dig at the cast's ages lingers throughout the show. It's true that you rarely see a cast of this age delivering this kind of mayhem, and it really works in its favour. Not just because their experience shows, but also because it lends a "what am I doing with my life?" po-facedness that only brings another dimension of humour. All four break away from the story at times to address the audience: Massey determined that the story must have mystical significance in her real life; Basauri and Park trying out new careers; Kreiss planning to steal the company's ideas and cash in back in Germany. It may ultimately be a load of old silliness but it's layered silliness. This kind of humour can be really hit or miss depending on personal taste, and I'm sure there's people who agree with that review that said they should grow up. For Ian and myself, and most of tonight's audience by the sound of it, it struck just the right note (and I have no idea why I found the tooth-brushing joke as funny as I did.) Oedipussy is stupid, in a very clever way. (Or possibly clever in a very stupid way.)

Oedipussy by Carl Grose and Spymonkey is booking until the 21st of April at the Lyric Hammersmith; then continuing on tour to Newbury, Cardiff, Southampton, Truro and Brighton.

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes including interval.

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