The Theater: Bleeding Life

OEDIPUS THE KING

by SOPHOCLES

In a new translation by ANTHONY BURGESS

A bleak altar half hidden by incense smoke holds down the front of the stage. Shaman figures appear, chanting to a kind of voodoo drumbeat. On the altar, the body of a child is laid. The darkness is pierced by a primal scream. A priest plunges his hand into the human sacrifice and lifts out the heart, thrusting it, like a savage challenge, toward the civilized middle-class audience at Minneapolis' Tyrone Guthrie Theater.

The setting for Michael Langham's staging of Oedipus the King seems less Thebes than a jungle clearing. The tribal-dancing choruses,...

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