British director Robert Icke - Ibsen Artist in Residence at ITA - is known for his high-profile adaptations of classical pieces. With the ITA ensemble he made a modern version of Sophocles' Oedipus, in which Oedipus is a politician in the 21st century who finds out the greatest secret of his life. Featuring Hans Kesting ("Hans Kesting is a superb Oedipus." - The Guardian ★★★★★) and Marieke Heebink (nominated for the Theo d'Or for this role).
Duration: 120 minutes
Language: Dutch spoken
It is election night. Oedipus is on the verge of a massive victory. The country has not known a leader for many years since Laius' death. The ambitions are great. Oedipus wants to create a future, create a new way of life. He also insists, if elected, that the investigation into the death of his predecessor is reopened. This is very much against the wishes of his campaign manager Creon. Tiresias also makes an appearance. The blind seer makes some ominous predictions: the future has always been buried in the past.
Oedipus suspects a plot and turns his back on them. In the meanwhile, in the half-empty campaign headquarters, Oedipus is surprised by his family - mother, wife and children - with a dinner. An old incident is thereby brought up. Gradually, Oedipus discovers that his past is very different from what he has always thought. During his research, the pieces of the puzzle fall together. Oedipus tries to control his fate, but discovers that he has been seeing blind all along. The consequences are catastrophic.
Oedipus' quest is full of surprising twists. That makes its settlement a blood-curdling thriller. Who looks on impassively as someone who digs uncompromisingly for the truth faces his own downfall? Oedipus is much more than the story of a man who has been seeing blind. The centuries-long attraction is and remains the recognizability of its fate: existence is fragile. And the realisation that it is almost impossible to keep our life and happiness in our own hands.
The press about Oedipus
‘Oedipus is played with magnetic naturalism by Hans Kesting. ’ – The Guardian ★★★★★
‘At the self-destructive heart of Icke’s Internationaal Theater Amsterdam production are Hans Kesting and Marieke Heebink’s towering performances as the doomed couple whose attempt to do good are thwarted by the trickledown effects of their respective pasts.’ – The Herald ★★★★
‘It’s a superb interpretation of Sophocles’s story that feels modern and timeless.’ – The Times ★★★★
‘The cast is first-rate – flawless. As Jocaste, Marieke Heebink is devastating – and devastated – as she spills the details of her past to Oedipus. Frieda Pittoors as Merope, the woman who passes for Oedipus’s mother, is excellent too: a brittle old lady, comically marooned, never parted from her handbag.’ – The Guardian ★★★★★
Robert Icke decided to become a playwright and director after he had been torn away from his PlayStation by his father as a teenager and saw a performance of Richard III, with Kenneth Branagh in the title role. Now – only 34 years old – he is regarded as a great young talent in British theatre. From 2013 until 2019 he was an associate director at the Almeida in London, the famous theatre that used to be led by Pierre Audi before he came to Amsterdam.
Since 2019 Robert Icke has committed himself to Internationaal Theater Amsterdam as Ibsen Artist in Residence. This new form of support was created by the Philip Loubser Foundation.
In season 21|22, he will be directing The Doctor and Judas at ITA and his directing of Children of Nora will be reprised.
Hildegard Bechtler is an award-winning designer based in London and working internationally. As well as Oedipus and Children of Nora for the ITA ensemble, Hildegard has collaborated with director Robert Icke on the acclaimed Almeida Theatre productions of Hamlet, Mary Stuart and Oresteia (all of which transferred to London’s West End) and Uncle Vanya and Enemy of the People (Park Avenue Armory).
written and directed by Robert Icke
scenography Hildegard Bechtler
with Bart Bijnens, Jules Croiset, Hélène Devos, Alexander Elmecky, Aus Greidanus jr., Marieke Heebink, Eva Heijnen, Hans Kesting, Frieda Pittoors, Harm Duco Schut
translation Rob Klinkenberg
lighting design Natasha Chivers
video Tal Yarden
sound design Tom Gibbons
costume design Wojciech Dziedzic
photography Jan Versweyveld
private producers Joost and Marcelle Kuiper, Harry and Marijke van den Bergh, Joachim Fleury