EdFringe 2022 Review: Oedipus Electronica


Pecho Mama previously brought the sublime Medea Electronica to the the Fringe in 2018 and now set their sights on the tragic tale of Oedipus with the Greek mythological hero getting his story rejuvenated in Oedipus Electronica. This atmospheric piece fuses together compelling performances, otherworldly staging and ethereal electronic music for staggering results.

Jocasta’s dreams of motherhood are crushed after an ectopic pregnancy. She thrusts herself into her work as a screenwriter with a hedonistic abandon. Throwing herself into her script, she creates a tale centred around the son she never had, reality and fiction fusing as she descends further into her creative whirlwind.

Mella Faye stars in, writes and directs this production which fuses the heady blood-soaked, incestuous themes of Oedipus with a tale of contemporary urban grit. Faye’s set design sees a scaffold set up above a toilet, covered with a sheet of glass and a small office set-up in the middle of the stage – the site of Jocasta’s writer’s block. Lighting design from Clare O’Donoghue and Tanya Stephenson illuminates the dark urban space, whether capturing the pulsing of night clubs, the glare of police lights, or blasts of handheld torches lighting scenes to an earth-rumbling percussion.

The narrative of Oedipus Electronica magnificently fuses elements of the classic Greek text with a contemporary edge. With Jocasta a screenwriter, Faye is able to play with multiple narratives – the present of Jocasta struggling through her failed pregnancy, yet spiralling further into a complex narrative she weaves – manifestations of grief and trauma able to rear their head through this created world. Yet despite this narrative within a narrative, the inevitable love triangle aspect becomes no less harrowing. Oedipus Electronica beautifully weaves through these narratives, bringing Ryan David Harston’s Oedipus in to the fold as Jocasta busies herself with her script and his subsequent creation.

Much of the brilliance of Oedipus Electronica comes from its impeccable casting. Ryan David Harston packs a passionate fury into the role of Oedipus – particularly as the narrative progresses and the character is trapped in the world of urban crime, leading to a tense cat and mouse psychological thriller element being introduced. Mella Faye’s Jocasta is a fascinating protagonist, delivering a performance capturing a woman’s carnal passion snowballing as she is pushed to her physical, emotional and mental limits. Kwame Bentil is equally as impressive as Jocasta’s husband Laius, particularly as he drawn into the narrative created by Jocasta – becoming the father, desperately trying to save his son from demise in the criminal underworld.

Oedipus Electronica soundtrack is provided by a live on stage band with Don Bird on drums and Alex Stanford on keyboards. The musicians transport us through the South London’s nightlife as Jocasta and Oedipus hide themselves from hunting police officers. Bird and Stanford’s powerful musical contributions further sync us without the emotional heartbeat of Oedipus Electronica, mirroring moments of passion, fury, and tension with an undeniable skill.

By bringing Oedipus into a gritty contemporary urban world, Oedipus Electronica‘s fusion of emotionally complex performance, emotive music cues, and innovative staging presents a truly breathtaking theatrical experience.

Oedipus Electronica plays at the Pleasance Courtyard until August 26th. Get tickets here.

Photo: Jo Thorne

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