“Oedipus Part One: Assembly”
A PaperCut Review
By Emilia Carpineta-Gaul
Edited by Amanda Barnard
With the fall season comes the line up for Montreal’s 2018 theatre season. Early this season, Brave New Looks Theatre Company in association with Scapegoat Carnivale presented “Oedipus Part One: Assembly” at the Centaur Theatre. Directed by Andreas Apergis under the musical direction of David Oppenheim and composed by Brian Lipson, “Oedipus Part One: Assembly” tells the story of the Greek myth of Oedipus and his attempt to escape fate. It was translated by Lynn Kozak and adapted for the stage by Joseph Shragge. This show offers its audience a first glimpse of this project in progress. The previews of the show only ran for three showings, from October 20th 22nd.
The story of “Oedipus” was presented by a cast of talented actors, who embodied their characters with fascinating depth and development. The performance allowed the audience members to fully understand the motivations of the characters, leading to a smooth initiation to the world of Greek classical theatre. Although the actors were reading off scripts, their narration and delivery of the tale breathed life into the characters that they were presenting. There was no use of microphones, which led to an intimate connection between actor and audience. Only the guitar and vocal soloists were on microphones. Another element that enhanced the audience-performer connection was the fact that whenever a character addressed the townspeople, they broke the fourth wall in a seamless and highly effective way to maintain the audience’s attention. My personal favourite scene was when Oedipus tries to discover who his real father was by asking the shepherd and the old man, it enlightens a very tragic story with some comic relief.
Every aspect was very “out of the box” in the best possible way because it kept the audience engaged. Right from the beginning, the first thing you see from the moment you walk into the theatre is what appears to be a “plain” set. Black curtains, black stairs and risers, black music stands, lots of little plastic chairs and a table in the middle. The characters interacted fantastically despite this “plain” set, they really brought it to life. At first, we see the actors sitting at the table in the center reading off their scripts and the house lights are still on, like an informal round table reading. However, as the play progresses, the actors begin to move around – still in character and still reading off their scripts – beginning to block the actions of their characters, using the entire theatre. This includes the actors entering from all around and even walking and speaking from among the audience members as well as standing on the risers which created a faint echo thanks to the theatre’s acoustics.
One of my favourite highlights of the show were the musical interludes. I loved the fabulous integration of three incredible choirs and how well they worked together, as well as an talented guitarist and outstanding vocal soloists. The harmonies, polyphony, dissonance, minor intervals and great use of dynamic shift were wonderful to set just the right mood for the show.
All in all, I was very glad to be able to see “Oedipus Part One: Assembly” on its opening night. Everyone in the audience, including myself, really enjoyed the show and everyone was actively engaged, reacting well to the show. I absolutely loved everything about the show: the music, the acting, the full and seamless use of simplistic set lights and costumes. I would absolutely recommend seeing “Oedipus Part One: Assembly”, whenever there is another opportunity to see it.