Jocasta will not die

March 31, 2014

Jocasta will not dieThe haunting myth of Oedipus has driven men and women into frenzy for more than 3000 years. A popular story for theatre since the ancient time, the story of Oedipus is still no less suitable for a theatre production even at this era.
Sophocles (497 BC- 406 BC) was one of the major playwrights to work on the myth, and his play King Oedipus is still one of the most read and esteemed plays. It is no wonder then that a play that recreates the Oedipus myth or the Oedipus complex can touch the audience even though all are quite knowledgeable of what to expect in such a production.
Recently-formed theatre troupe Agontuk Repertory premiered its first production Ondhokare Methane, based more on the ‘Oedipus complex’ than on the myth on Saturday at Experimental Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
Written and directed by Pantha Shahriar, the play worked not on the actual myth where everything is seen from Oedipus’ point of view, but on ‘mother-son complex’ where everything is seen from the perspective of the ‘mother-wife’.
This is particularly what makes the play new and appealing to the audience. The story is set in the 1920s in a coal mine. An aged restaurant-owner Vivien, enacted brilliantly by Tropa Majumder, is seen living with his comparatively young and crippled husband Edward, enacted wonderfully by Jahangir Alam. In dramatic turns and twists of events, there comes a Laurence Taylor, enacted by credibly Pantha Shahriar, who once impregnated unmarried Vivien on one lazy noon.
Vivien and Edward, possessed by a psychic storm and desire to avenge, kill Laurence only to discover later that Edward is that son whom Vivien and Laurence gave birth to.
The playwright and director also took pains to be accurate in suggestive details so as to make the Oedipus complex and myth evident. For example, Edward’s one leg is crippled as it was with Oedipus; there appears a beer-drinking palmist to remind of seer Tiresias of the Oedipus myth.
But the difference of the play to the original Oedipus myth lies in the character of Vivien who acts as a complete contrast to Jocasta. Vivien, it seems, will not surrender to her fate and kill herself as Jocasta does.
The play does not end, as in Sophocles’ Oedipus, with Oedipus gauging out his eyes or his mother Jocasta committing suicide. But the play seems to suggest the oedipal maxim- his character is his fate- with an exchange of the he for her.
Seven artistes from different theatre troupes acted in the production. The set designed by Faiz Jahir, light done by Amlan Biswas, and music given by Ahsan Reza Khan were befitting to the play, though a few minor mistakes in the transitions of scenes occurred. A packed-hall audience remained thoroughly absorbed in the play in pin-drop silence. Among them was theatre director and teacher Sudip Chakroborthy who labeled the production ‘compact, well-thought and well-executed’.

-With New Age input

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