Oedipus Schmoedipus — Melbourne season

post’s Oedipus Schmoedipus opens to a pristine white stage and backdrop. Enter Zoë Coombs Marr and Mish Grigor, angelic in their equally pristine and white costumes with knowing smiles on their faces. What follows is a bloodbath, as CoombsMarr and Grigor commit suicide and murder over and over for the next 15 minutes – stabbings, seppuku, slit throats and wrists, tongues cut out  and hands cut off, guns fired, necks snapped, bombs – this sequence has it all.

But if you’re going in expecting to see gory death scenes for an entire hour and ten minutes, then I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. What follows instead is part stand-up routine and part philosophical exercise as Coombs Marr and Grigor lead a chorus of 25 volunteer amateur performers through 2000 years worth theatre’s most famous dying words.

Oedipus Schmoedipus. Photo by Ellis Parrinder
Oedipus Schmoedipus. Photo by Ellis Parrinder

“What is death? What is theatre? What can theatre teach us about death?” they ask with a sarcastic, deadpan and self-aware sense of humour, which lends way to a performance that, is equally joyful, dark and moving.

The makeshift chorus is gorgeous in its authenticity and brings heart and soul into what would otherwise be a funny but rather contrived dialogue between Grigor and Coombs Marr. Watching the volunteers find their footing with a youthful joy is endlessly fascinating, amusing and relatable.

Though there are moments when the show begins to lag, whenever the pace slows too much, Marr and Grigor take a new turn, gliding smoothly between hilarious and insightful, tongue-in-cheek and philosophical.

It is a touching performance that speaks to what is perhaps the one universal truth: we are all going to die but in the words of Bernard Shaw, “Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

A group of Melbourne critics (and a surprise Adelaide critic) were among the Saturday matinee volunteer performers. AussieTheatre’s Anne-Marie wrote about the experience on her blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *