Greek tragedy is hard.
Static speeches, choruses of dubious old men intoning between scenes and all the fun bits happening quite decidedly off-stage: it’s not a recipe for something most audiences axe eager to stomach.
So when Flipping the Bird, the company behind The Magic Toyshop, say they’re planning to do it in The Cellar, with an 18+ age rating and an S&M theme, you’d be forgiven if your first reaction is polite incredulity.
Yet such is their plan and, outlining their plans for the actors and the space, it sounds like it just might work. The watchword for the show is immersion. All the action happens in the round (or more precisely, in the crowd), with mini-scenes taking place in the alcoves, and the bar serving booze throughout and the fifteen-person chorus improvising their way around the space.
Of course, this improvisation is mainly centred on sex and hardcore drug-use. Make no mistake, they’re immersing themselves in the sordid setting as much as the audience.
At any time, the audience will be able to see the twisted excess around them, and by their presence, be implicated in the very decadence that leads to tragedy. Gore will also make an appearance at the orgy (gorgy?), although that’ll be left as a surprise.
With sex and drugs, of course, comes rock n’ roll, and the soundtrack plays an essential part in Antigone. Heavy, pulsing dance tracks, whipping up die performers and, they hope, the audience into the frenzied decadence of decaying Thebes.
Of course, with the darkness comes the camp, amusing side that can only really be achieved by a production sponsored by a sex shop, with funny, involving and sick physical humour.
It’s looking like this could be a crowning moment in Oxford twisted sexy fun, so if you’re into that, give it a shot