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Mom's the word in Oedipus trilogy

YOGYAKARTA, Thejakartapost.com - Teater Alam, which reached stardom thanks to its successin staging classic plays in the 1970s, is making a comeback after a long absence from the stage.

Its return performance at Purna Budaya cultural center from July 15 through July 17 has drawn big interest.

The play, titled Oedipus Complek, was initially planned to last for 9.5 hours but was shortened to only six hours because both the cast and the audience found it unbearably exhausting.

Presenting the drama, involving 21 actors and actresses, was an ambitious, if crazy, idea. The company, directed by Azwar AN, presents three classical works by Sophocles and translated by WS Rendra. The works are Oedipus Rex, Oedipus De Colonus and Antigone. The actors have only two 15-minute breaks during the performance.

The first episode, Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King, is about the tragedywhich befalls a man who unsuccessfully attempts to resist his destiny. Oedipus was abandoned shortly after he was born because his parents were worried he would kill his father, the king, and marry his mother. So he hadto be killed.

But Oedipus did not die. Eventually, he kills an old man who attacks him,not realizing the old man is actually his father.

The second episode, Oedipus de Colonus, is about the adventures of Oedipus, the former king of Thebes, who searches for redemption. On arriving at Kolonus, he comes to believe he never intentionally sinned. Oedipus is forgiven and ascends to heaven.

The third episode, Antigone, tells about the civil war which destroyed Thebes following Oedipus' death. Polyneices, one of Oedipus' children, dieson the battlefield as a traitor. According to local tradition, it was forbidden to bury his body. However, his younger sister Antigone takes the body and buries it. Consequently, she is accused of being a traitor and condemned to death.

These events are the result of the scheming Creon, who was taken over by his jealousy of Oedipus' rise to the throne. Creon presented Oedipus with aqueen, the beautiful Yocasta, who was none other than Oedipus' mother.

The conspiracy was eventually uncovered and Yocasta took her life. Oedipus took the knife from her body and pierced his eyes with it.

Eventually, Oedipus' four children died in misery. Creon rose to power inplace of Oedipus, but his fate haunted him. He lost his wife and children, who committed suicide because they could not bear his cruelty.

In the first show on Thursday night, many spectators fell asleep while the actors and actresses were visibly exhausted. Toward the end of the show, their acting was no longer as natural as it was in the beginning, andthe poetic lines did not sound as beautiful as they had earlier in the evening. The actors missed a lot of words, but the spectators did not realize this because they were just as tired.

For the performances, Teater Alam retains an excellent cast. The stage isartistically decorated with ornaments made of recycled paper and the cast'sroyal attire and the background music are especially deserving of praise because they so successfully transport people back to ancient Greece.

Azwan said Teater Alam would remain loyal to its choices of classic masterpieces with message concerning justice, peace and democracy. AlthoughSophocles' works are almost 24 centuries old, its morals remain relevant topresent realities, he said.

""We plan to perform the series again in Semarang this September,"" Azwan says.

The Oedipus Complek is dominated by veteran actors, including Gege Hang Andika (Oedipus), Titiek Azwar (Creon) and Sri Harjanto Sahid (Theseus). They have retained all of their acting skills. Some of the new actors are Evi Idawati (Antigone) and Rosana Hariyanti (Ismene), who both put on commendable performances.

With tickets costing Rp 10,000, the show did not attract a large crowd. It could be that the price is too high for students, who comprise the majority of spectators at any play in this ""student city"". However, even plays which are free of charge often fail to attract large audiences. Yogyakartans are notoriously choosy about their dramas.

Many Yogyakartans, apparently, do not particularly like this show becauseit is full of the poetic language of playwright Rendra. The cast has also failed to fully develop its acting styles

Evi Idawati