In the last week of half-term, the Classics department organised a trip to Cambridge to see a student performance in Greek of Sophocles’ “Oedipus at Colonus”, the second of the Theban Plays. It focuses on Oedipus, blind and in his last days, led by Antigone to a sacred grove of the Furies at Colonus, where he is visited by various people, including Theseus, king of Athens. The play deals with the ideas of old age, guilt, redemption and death as Oedipus comes to terms with what he has done and prepares to die.
This production set the story in a modern setting of a hospital, and made interesting use of the chorus – having them stand in a semi-circle around Oedipus, as if in constant watch and judgement, which are other themes that run through the play.
Before seeing the play, we attended a talk from Professor Simon Goldhill on what constitutes a ‘hero’; great heroes such as Perseus and Odysseus are great because they transcend the ordinary, whereas tragic heroes like Heracles and Oedipus transgress the ordinary. The Cambridge production portrayed the eventual transcendence of Oedipus in his dying moments with an equally moving and haunting chant from the chorus, surrounding Oedipus, as he is redeemed from an outcast in his life, to a hero in death with the power to a inflict curse upon Thebes.
Overall, the production succeeded in re-imagining Sophocles’ work and bringing it to life in a chilling and powerful story told in Ancient Greek.
Written by Camille, Y11