Mark-Anthony Turnage’s chamber opera Greek – first performed in and based on Steven Berkoff’s play – reworks the Oedipus story;. STEVEN BERKOFF. Plays One. East. West. Greek. Sink the Belgrano! Massage. Lunch. The Bow of Ulysses. Sturm und Drang. ******Created by ebook. See a bawdy, British retelling of “Oedipus Rex”. “GREEK” is a rags-to-riches story filled with sarcasm and scatological humor as only the “Bad Boy of British.

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For over forty years, Steven Berkoff has been an ever present figure in London theatre.

Berkoff has written over eighteen original works, in addition to sixteen adaptations of classic works by literary figures such as Franz Kafka, Edgar Allen Poe, greeek William Shakespeare, to name a few.

Berkoff’s approach to Greek, as well as all his theatre, mixes theories of Artaud along with the Greeks and Shakespeare. Who better to discuss the reasoning and theory behind the creation of Greek than Steven Berkoff himself? Four Berkovian works will be cited in this essay. After a brief synopsis of the text, more analysis will be made of Berkoff’s revisitation of the work.

Berkoff’s autobiography Free Association also discusses his theories and motivations more in depth. Many of his plays deal with her term of office and its effects, and Greek is one of these plays. The final Berkoff work looked at is The Theatre of Steven Berkoff contains descriptions and photographs of his plays in production.

Steven Berkoff may not be well known in the commercial theatre world, but berkpff is widely known throughout the academic community. stsven

Greek – review | Stage | The Guardian

But more recently, scholars have looked toward Berkoff’s written works, performance style and productions for the source of their writings. This is the first essay I have written fully-devoted to Berkoff, but I have also discussed his work Sink the Belgrano! Two such scholarly writings will serve as support in this essay. Knight looks into Berkoff’s fictional and non-fictional plays, their use of language, and effect in performance.

Besides modern interpretations and opinions of Oedipus Rex, the source text itself is important to the understanding of this essay. In addition to interviews with Berkoff by Ross Wetzsteon and Mark Steyn, the paper will conclude by bringing Berkoff’s writings, modern investigation and ancient theories together to analyze Greek and its connection to Oedipus Rex.

I ransacked the entire legend. Therefore, this essay will conclude that Greek is not a modernization of a classic tragedy, but a revisitation of it.

Yet, his first look at the tragedy would not be the last by scholars. InSigmund Freud connected the play with one of his psychoanalytic theories. The theory, a sexual desire for intimacy with the parent of the opposite sex while having a sense of rivalry with the parent of the same sex, was known as the Oedipus Complex.

A variety of productions have been staged, as well as a variety of different interpretations of the tragic tale. One such work, Greek by Steven Berkoff, not only revisited the story of Oedipus but also reinterpreted it based upon the values seen in s Thatcherist London. Since the mids, Steven Berkoff has been a constant in London theatre.


Alexs Sierz defined the movement as: At its best, this kind of theatre is so powerful, so visceral, that it forces audiences to react: It is the kind of theatre that inspires us to use superlatives, whether in praise or condemnation.

Berkoff’s approach to Greek, as well as all his theatre, mixed the ideas of Artaud with the Greeks and Shakespeare. In an interview with Ross Wetzsteon, Berkoff said: Abscesses of the soul! I see these Greeks sitting around the agora stevrn to think of the most shameful the most stevdn, the most obscene things imaginable.

In Greek, he drew from the Oedipus story for the central plot the plague, the prophecy, the sphinx, killing his father, and marrying his motherborrowed from his own experiences growing up in East London for the details, and made a political statement about Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister.

Act one stevdn with Eddy explaining his humble beginnings within a blue-collar family in the London borough of Tufnell Park. Eddy then leaves home to stop the plague affecting his family, poverty. Eddy gets into an argument with the manager of the restaurant and then kills him. The act ends with Mum and Dad questioning if they should have told Eddy that he is not their brrkoff.

Yet, they decide it is not important and they will discuss it with him at a later date: Act Two begins with a decade passed.

By solving the riddle, Eddy has killed the sphinx and ended the plague. Things continue to get better for Eddy. He gains wealth, travels around the world, and is ever devoted and in love with his wife. It is during this meal that it is revealed that Eddy is not their blood, but instead adopted. His parents explain how they acquired Eddy, which matches the story of how his wife lost a son years prior.

Yet in the end, Eddy does not reach the same conclusion as his Grecian counterpart. Steven Berkoff felt that Greek was more than an adaptation of Oedipus Rex, but instead a tribute to the spirit of Sophocles and Grecian society. The desensitized audience that Berkoff wrote Greek for could relate greeo the Oedipus plot with its modern connections. Yet, there was one element from the classic tragedy that did not fit with Berkoff’s retelling.

His most poetic language was seen in the love scenes between Eddy and Wife. Berkoff, Greek The ending put a modern twist on the greei, as well as made a statement about the state of a selfish society. Besides rudiments from the Steben story, Berkoff borrowed elements from Greek works and society and put them into Greek. Wife specifically named Greek gods in this scene: Despite these changes between Eddy and Oedipus, Berkoff discovered ways to connect the two characters throughout Greek.

Berkoff compared Eddy to Oedipus in his note prefacing the text: Oedipus found bedkoff city in the grip of a plague and sought to rid the city of its evil centre represented by the Sphinx. Eddy seeks to reaffirm his beliefs and inculcate a new order of things with his vision and life-affirming energy.

His passion for life is inspired by the love he feels for his woman, and his detestation of the degrading environment he inherited. If Eddy is a warrior who holds up the smoking sword as he goes in, attacking all that he finds polluted, at the same time he is at heart an ordinary young man with whom many I know will find identification.


Yet, the similarities end there. Eddy proves himself to be very different from Oedipus. As previously mentioned, Aristotle laid out the rules of tragic theatre theory in Poetics. In one chapter, berioff discussed his views of the necessary qualities in a great tragic hero. Eddy definitely does not fit that description.

He comes from a working-class family in the ghettos of London. He is also not morally just as seen in his dialogue and actions. Though his outcome is shaped by the fates, Eddy does not receive the pity that Oedipus may from audiences.

Greek also does not teach a moral lesson as learned from Oedipus Rex, instead it abandons all use of morality in the play. Berkoff painted a picture of a dismal society where morals were non-existent, violence consumed the streets, and the upper-class remained wealthy while the lower-class remained poor.

Other playwrights strayed from such negative topics, and instead tried to show the good that existed in society. No, we have to show the moral decline of Thatcherism! In Greek, as well as several other of his plays, this English society is under rule of the fictional Maggot Scratcher, a character based upon the steevn Margaret Thatcher.

Berkoff has made the point of expressing his opinion of Thatcher within his works. Greek, Decadence, Sink the Belgrano! By using Thatcher as a character in his works, Berkoff historicalises an era in British history, and in Greek connects the eteven with the ancient. One can only imagine how Aristotle would view Stephen Berkoff’s Greek.

Berkoff is a dramatist with no regard to dramatic rules. Berklff works expose his characters, their society and their flaws at face value, and Greek is no exception. Eddy is not just a modern version of Oedipus, but a representation of the effects of s Thatcherism. Greek is not a modernization of a classic tragedy, but a revisitation of it. Berkoff took another look at the ancient work beroff breathed a new and modern life into it.

Though Berkoff’s s society and values may seem dated to contemporary audiences, its effect was strong during its era and gives modern audiences a period of history they can easier relate to. In the end, the audience receives the best of both worlds, the classic original and a modern spin on it, as does Eddy in the end of Greek with both his wife and mother.

Dramatic Theory and Criticism: Greeks to Grotowski Ed. The Collected Plays, Volume I.

Greek (1980)

Faber and Faber Limited, Berkoff, Steven Free Association. Studies in Literary Criticism and Theory. Knight, Deborah From the Libido to Identity: University of Geneva, Faber and Faber, Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. Masterpieces of the Drama.

Greek (play) – Wikipedia

Carr and Arthur M. Perhaps we should have told him Dinah perhaps we ought to tell our son should know the secret or we may end up in. The Theatre of Steven Berkfof. From the Libido to Identity: