The three Theban plays by Sophocles - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone - are one of the great landmarks of Western theatre. They tell the story of Oedipus, King of Thebes, who was destined to suffer a terrible fate - to kill his father, marry his mother, and beget children of the incestuous union. He does this unknowingly but still has to suffer terrible consequences, which also tragically affect the next generation.
These three plays were written around 450 BC, with the playwright following the established convention of presenting the story through main characters but using a chorus - sometimes one voice, sometimes more - as an independent commentator that also occasionally participates in the drama. When the audiences of ancient Athens went to the amphitheatres to see the plays, they would have known the basic story of poor Oedipus.
Nevertheless, the power of Sophocles' retelling made the Theban plays deeply horrifying and affecting - and this is still true now, some 2,500 years later. There is also a strong contemporary resonance for us, for in the 20th century the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud famously adopted the story to illustrate his Oedipus complex, which, he argued, was a condition of the unconscious mind in boys - that they want to sleep with their mothers. It is interesting that through the character of the queen, Jocasta, in Oedipus the King, Sophocles states this unequivocally.
Oedipus the King is well known. The other two are less so: Oedipus at Colonus, which deals with his last days, and Antigone, which casts the spotlight on his daughter, who, as part of the accursed blood line, chooses to act in a way she believes is right, whatever the consequences. Yet they are equally powerful and moving.
This audio production, with Jamie Glover as Oedipus and Hayley Atwell as his daughter, Antigone, is a world premiere audio recording of all three plays.
With the authoritative but modern translation by Ian Johnston, specially commissioned new music from the English composer Roger Marsh, and a cast of outstanding actors, this Audible Original presentation of Sophocles' Theban plays will be listened to not once but many times.
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"This outstanding full cast, and Roger Marsh's original music, serves Ian Johnston's vigorous verse translation of Sophocles very well. None of the actors can be singled out; they're all marvelous at combining the original declamatory tradition with modern ideas about portraying character and emotion. The result is a moving dramatic experience that is enhanced by, but does not require, a background in the classics. This is a first-rate example not only of why the classics endure, but also of what can be done with the medium of audio." (AudioFile magazine)
"The casting is first rate, as are Ian Johnston's strong, simple lines and the startlingly effective music." (The Times)
Writer, teacher, omnivorous reader. I'll have a go at any book that takes my fancy.
Each time I read (or in this case listen to) Oedipus The King, it grows more devastating. I read it first as a student some 13 years ago and it moved me then despite my tender age. I tought the play when I became a teacher, and renewing my aquaintance with it again at 32, thanks to this excellent production, I find that it has grown even more powerful. You need age and success on your side to truly understand the dreadful implications of this story of a good but proud man brought to ruin by an inescapable destiny. Anyone interested in Theatre or Literature should get this. you don't need a grounding in Greek mythology to enjoy it as most actions are explained by the characters, but be advised it isn't an easy listen. The production values are good and the acting is for the most part excellent; Johnstone's translation is indeed authoritative, but it it sometimes lacks the pithiness of Robert Fagles' translation. this is made up for by the strength and pathos of the main performers, and the occasional clunkiness of the translation is most apparent in the lines of the chorus; watch out for Jonathan Oliver, something about his voice suits his role in the chorus perfectly. I look forward to listening to the two remaining Theban plays, but I think Oedipus will haunt me forever. I've learned to count no man truly happy until he is dead, and you don't forget lessons like that in a hurry.
This dramatisation of the Oedipus plays is very well performed. It really has the drama of ancient Greek theatre. I also really liked the musical interludes and the way the plays were split up. The only frustrating thing was the really short chapters that sometimes change mid dialogue. I couldn't find a good place to pause.
This translation is very peculiar, combining modern idioms with formalised speech. It really doesn't work. The performers do an okay job with a very poor script, though the chorus doesn't have a unified in flexion. Disappointing overall
Thought I would enjoy as I love audio Drama. This just seemed dated and filled with annoying music and group chanting.
I'm sure it is actually better than I rate it but as I say it did not work for me.
On the plus side i did learn from it and understand the story better
I listened to this to refresh my memory of my classics classes back at school. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting all three short stories although the acting is a little to be desired!
I have only a passing acquaintance with Greek tragedy, but I recommend this as an easy entry into three of its central texts. Oedipus The King works the best in these audio versions - I feel that Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone benefit from the visual scale of the stage - but I really enjoyed all three.
Having only known about Oedipus from the medical term "Oedipus Complex", this series of plays about the tragic life of Oedipus and his family reallt explains a lot.
I enjoyed the narration by multiple characters as it helped me visualise the scenes and focus on the story.
I recommend this to anyone who has read or has an interest in Greek history, Greek tragedies or even Shakespeares works such as Macbeth, Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, as it is in the same vein but from a much earlier time.
such a masterful performance of the most profound tragedy of all time.
listen, read, feel every scene!
"Was truly great!"
I absolutely love these plays and the cast here was great. If your buying to hear the tale for the first time or refreshing yourselves of the joy of these, this is a great buy. I personally loved the acting and I have not one bad word for Sophocles.
"So Well Done!"
I would recommend this to anyone who loves Greek tragedy, and to anyone forced to read Greek tragedy against your will!
Antigone, voiced by Hayley Atwell. A strong and compassionate woman.
Hayley Atwell's performance was enchanting. She removed all stiffness from the translation and conveyed the emotion of the character.
I listened to each of the plays in one sitting apiece. They are not the kind of stories you binge on - they are the kind you listen to and then digest as you ponder them later.
There's a reason Greek tragedy is still relevant almost 2500 years after it was written. This is a great way to introduce yourself to it, and it's also a great way to enjoy it even if you've already read and loved the works in print.
"Outstanding for something written about 441 bc"
About the upper middle
None... Oedipus was unique
It was an extremely well orated story. Despite being familiar with the tale, I found it to be quite entertaining. I agree with some previous posts that the musical accompaniment was distracting and annoying which explains the 4 star rating. The chorus was consistent with story structure of the period and might not be for everyone, but I got used to it. It was definitely worth the Audible credit!
"very well done."
this was a very well done work. Worth every penny. highly recommended. if you are looking for a great audio drama look no further.
"The Greeks have a word for us."
Superb rendition! Voices clear and deeply moving. I've read these plays and seen them staged, but this was the best. Kudos to the clarity of the chorus.
"Great performance but..."
Much of it sounds like it was recorded in a garage. Muted, sometimes echoing. And then there are times, particularly with the chorus that sound like a studio. Just diminished the listening experience a bit
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