Revival Dir. Daisy Evans, Theatre Royal Glasgow, 2nd – 3rd February
The Scottish Opera’s performance of ‘Greek’ irrefutably proved that opera can be of its time. In a surprisingly witty, shocking, and altogether sarcastic manner, the show made me question just about everything in modern society. It parodied everything from newspapers, family set-ups, sexuality, feminism and, above all, class. And all of these undeniably modern themes were questioned within the rough framework of the Oedipus story.
Whilst social issues certainly dominated the play, the artistic elements of opera were not forgotten, but instead became the tools to effectively explore them. One of the most impressive elements was the setting. The stage was dominated by a bright white plank, with one doorframe on either side of the stage. Yet it was impressively used to transform the simple space for different scenes. The white backdrop was rotated, making the stage a dynamic space in which the passage of time was experimented with. In various scenes a simple spotlight could change the mood from humorous to ominous, simply through the use of shadow.
Yet the most memorable scenes were undoubtedly those when the background became a screen for projections. This it was used as a screen to depict the ‘British plague’ via current newspapers, baked beans, and maggots. In a more humorous, but nonetheless disgusting manner, the screen rendered the fight, and victory, of Eddy over his birth-father in the throwing down of breakfast foods.
One of the downfalls of the performance was that the standard of acting was unfortunately not consistent. Whilst some scenes managed to be simultaneously heartbreaking, darkly ironic, and silly, others seemed entirely flat. In particular the scene of the sphinxes is disappointing, lacking entirely in the necessary strength and stage presence which such strong female characters required.
Luckily, this was an anomaly, and the variety of character which only four actors achieved was impressive. In particular Henry Waddington stood out: no matter what character he played, he made the role come alive and gave the scene a vitality and energy it might otherwise have lacked.
All in all, ‘Greek’ showed what modern opera can be. It was an opera full of social critique and endlessly satirical – yet the end left me with a ray of hope. Maybe love is all we have.
[Photography Credit: Scottish Opera]