Most will be well acquainted with these classic and epic Greek tales, and will be surprised to hear that the first of these three shows is directed at children. However, thankfully, Oedipus making "special friends" with his Mother isn't the first part of this story. Instead, the multi-talented troupe (triple threats all round) sing and dance through such classics as "I'm Smelly and I Know It" and "Don't Stop That Theban Feeling", which the little ones found thrilling – though perhaps not quite as thrilling as the jokes from the socially awkward Bear, which were something else (!).
Prince of Thebes is a long journey for Oedipus, from the feet of the Oracle to the Sphinx's lair, and to whip through it in an hour took some creative cutting, which did indeed leave us agreeing with the Bear's point that there are more credible plotlines on Scooby Doo. It's a joyous ride though with some wise moments about family ("where there is love there is family, and don't let any ignorant people tell you otherwise") and some cracking one-liners ("Ancient Greece, or, as we call it, Greece") that come together to leave the kids and some adults dancing away with the cast members at the end. The show introduced complicated heroes and heroines with ease from Oedipus before his downfall to Pandora with her box as well as the monsters and Gods of the time. It was adorable, a lot of fun and not without purpose.
Second there is Oedipus, and as the sun sets over London Bridge the somewhat older audience become the people of Thebes, caught up in the debate of the drama of recent times in the City, which, as the sun disappears, becomes reflected in the theatre's backdrop – if proof of London's beauty is needed it is here, in the set, the performance and its reflections.
The mood is immediately set as the actor's smiles become solemn and grown up and the monsters become internalized. King Oedipus confronts his people for a solution and finds only the dark truth from the blind seer, who is subtly and gently portrayed despite the disturbing story he has to tell. Performers sit among the audience, pulling ideas from the Greeks who did things much the same, and making the audience ever more involved and enthralled by the power and mercilessness of the Gods.
Third is Antigone, my favourite of the three, as all the characters' arcs reach their ends and an almost perfect level of humour and emotion is achieved. Phil Wilmott, the director and part of the cast, knows his material and his audience well – having filled the space before with similarly challenging works – and it shows through his own performance as King Creon, sister to Jocasta (who was both mother and wife to Oedipus, his brother in law and nephew – phew). I've seen Creon's story told before among the more prominent stories of his kin, and never have I seen the true delusion and struggle of his character. All of the performances by the ensemble are top notch – carrying the weight of centuries-old stories, yet with lines rolling off each tongue deliciously.
The totally "London" backdrop brings each story's modern day resonance ever more into the light and with a powerful cast, there really is not much not to like – even if incest-filled Greek tales aren't your bag, the quality of this show is sure to be. Go and see it!