Whatever was said about Fiennes as Oedipus - for the most part positive - the critics were full of praise for Alan Howard as the blind prophet Teiresias and Clare Higgins as Oedipus' wife and mother, who unnervingly walks the line between maternal affection and matrimonial sexuality in her relationship with Fiennes' character.
What's On Stage
The stage revolves to reveal a distant tree and
the sight of the great Alan Howard as the blind prophet Teiresias, proving the
asininity of an ignorant, bitchy preview in the Guardian by Germaine Greer in
his delivery of the line "You are who you are seeking to find", and generally
blessing the Fiennes performance with his presence as a significant former
Oedipus (on this very stage) ten years ago. He arrives like Pozzo with a Lucky
boy on a rope's length, stalking the stage with his one good leg propped up on
a walking stick, eyes obliterated in dark shades, and mines the lines for their
Irish cadences and black humour.
Fiennes' commanding, angry performance is a triumph of contemporary theatre, set against a vast gateway on an almost empty stage, with a superb supporting cast, led by Jasper Britton as a corporate-style Creon, wrongly accused but eventually turning the tables on his accuser.
Alan Howard, making a welcome return to the
stage, gives a masterly performance as the shambling, sightless Teiresias, a
sneering prophet without honour in this particular country, while Malcolm
Storry is the tough, no-nonsense stranger from Corinth who will blow the whole
West End Whingers (webblog)
Alan Howard all but steals the show in his
all-too-brief scene as Teiresias .....
BBC News website
Alan Howard makes a memorable blind prophet
Teiresias, made all the more mad by his crumpled linen suit, socks and sandals.
The Daily Telegraph
Oedipus is one of the greatest roles in dramatic literature, but Fiennes ........ isnt up to the task. He cuts a striking figure, but his tragic anguish always seems to be applied from the outside ............ Technically, there are some impressive moments. What I missed was the thrill that comes when an actor seems to be exposing his own heart, soul and guts.
There is deeper work elsewhere
Higginss terror as Jocasta chills the blood while Howard makes a
hauntingly otherworldly Teiresias with his bird-like movements and hooting
Independent on Sunday
I didn't immediately take to this production.
For a while, the sloping revolve made me feel seasick and Fiennes' machismo
seemed mannered. The arm movements - hands on hips, then knuckles on table,
then shoulders buckling - make him look like a string puppet. Maybe this needs
to be more obviously stylised in order not to look wooden, especially as he and
Alan Howard's blind, mercilessly foreboding Teiresias intone as if they
half-think they're in an opera. However, it soon becomes clear that that's
deliberate. The chorus of anxious citizens is an electrifying male-voice choir.
Composed by Jonathan Dove, their threnodies are atonal modern opera blended
with ululating folksong and urgent hymns. This thrillingly reinstates Ancient
Greek tragedy as music-theatre, and Frank McGuinness's new translation is
achingly beautiful, with an extraordinary simple eloquence, almost the poetic
equivalent of plainsong.
There's terrific support from Alan Howard's
unnerving Teiresias .......
Alanat Internet News/Arts
You could argue that Oedipus himself is a
seeker after the truth, no matter how terrible. "I will see what I am," he
remarks late on, the verb "see" itself cruelly deployed in light of the
character's eventual mutilation of his own eyes. But doesn't Oedipus also
greatly resist the very knowledge that he craves? "You are who you are seeking
to find," he is told near the start by the blind seer Teiresias (Alan Howard,
himself a onetime National Theatre Oedipus, here in dazzling form). "You are
your own children."
View (Internet) Culture
........ "I rule the roost here," remarks Oedipus, whose natty demeanor is at deliberate odds with a Thebes in need of cleansing and given over to plague. The confidence, though, yields to a child-adult who can shift in an instant from defensiveness to tears, from hubris to the eternal need for solace that finds Oedipus movingly enfolded within Teiresias's eerily informed arms.
The play toys with the thirst for information
and the simultaneous desire to recoil from it. Clare Higgins's Jocasta, a
black-clad middle-aged babe who navigates the stage in stiletto heels, can
dismiss as "many a man's mad dream" a son's desire to marry his own mother, as
if the thought were too preposterous for words. Soon after, confronted with the
enormity of a situation that will send her to an early grave, she bows out by
embracing the silence of one who has known too much. "I'll say nothing again"
are Jocasta's parting words, her vow anticipating a similar tactic in "Othello"
from the villainous Iago, who departs Shakespeare's tragedy announcing, "From
this time forth I never will speak word." The ensemble is luxuriantly cast, as
has apparently become the London norm, if this production, "Waste," and
"Ivanov" - three bravura classic revivals - are any gauge. Howard, his voice
gently flecked with an Irish lilt, points the play's chasm of bleakness in the
direction of Samuel Beckett, and it's no accident that Teiresias makes his
entrance tethered to a young boy, as if Beckett's famously elusive Godot had at
last arrived. ...........
Panels slide back to show a Waiting for Godot
landscape with leaden sky and blasted tree. Alan Howard's Teiresias comes out
of this scenery like Pozzo, led on a chain by a boy. Warbling, intermittently
Irish, glumly mischievous, he is the perfect counterfoil to Jasper Britton's
purposeful, brusque Creon, the bristling new broom.
Rogues and Vagabonds (Internet)
........ Alan Howard, as the blind soothsayer
Teiresias, evokes an insane normality which is both disturbing and mesmeric to
The production has strength in depth. Alan
Howard brings a mocking Beckettian Irish brogue to the blind seer, Tiresias. As
they struggle to fend off the full horror of their position, Fiennes and Clare
Higgins's superb Jocasta fall into gestures of mutual consolation that look
hideously like eroticised versions of the mother-son relationship. An
impressive, harrowing evening.