Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek is a must-see opera, even for the self declared ‘opera-haters’.
When Greek had its UK premiere in 1988 at the Edinburgh International Festival, Turnage was named as an ‘angry young man’ and understandably so. The opera is full of angry characters, death and swearing. 30 years later, they travelled to the Theatre Royal to unveil a modernised performance, one which was performed in last years Edinburgh International Festival.
Greek is bold and crude opera about the life of Eddy, a young, seemingly innocent man. It is based around the myth of Oedipus, with an updated twist. Whilst the opera progresses we begin to see Eddy’s life fall apart whilst he brings his family along on his path of destruction.
The set consists of a thin strip of stage which hangs above the orchestra. The white wall rotates, seemingly missing the audience by inches. This same white wall is used to project images created by the actors who descend into the pit. Throughout the show, there are different photos projected onto the wall, most notably, a nauseating mix of HP sauce, beans, mayonnaise and maggots, left squirming in the concoction. This is then followed by newspapers which are spread across the wall displaying current news and nude women.
Alex Otterburn, who plays the role of Eddy, returns to his role after the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival, and he is now a Scottish Emerging Artist 2017/2018, and it is clear why. Every note is beautifully hit and is filled with emotion, whether that be despair or bliss. Otterburn is joined by fellow Edinburgh cast members Allison Cook, who plays Eddy’s wife, fixated on replacing her husband, and Susan Bullock, Eddy’s mother. Henry Waddington makes his Scottish Opera debut as Eddy’s father.
The four strong cast play multiple roles, which is when the talent comes out, running off stage as a mother and running on stage as a policewoman requires skill and concentration, two things which this cast do not lack.
Greek is very much in-your-face and does not lack in rude language and sexual innuendos, having the audience gasping in shock. It can be surprising how controversial Greek is. It is clear that Greek is made for those who enjoy minimalistic, modernised theatre, as the play does really leave a lot up to the imagination. Missing out a lot of information, Greek leaves the audience to decide how the characters ended up at a specific place in their life. By doing so, it can leave a lot of audience members confused and unsure of the plot.
Greek is a must-see opera. The talented orchestra, conducted by Finnegan Downie Dear, compliment the skilled singers and the comedy leaves the audience laughing well after the end.
Guest Reviewer: Aimee Stanton