Theatre | Whatever would Freud say?


From sexuality in the family to Eighties bedroom music, Kate Rothwell discovers what happens when Oedipus Loves You.

Oedipus Loves You is a production from Irish company, Pan Pan Theatre that has, since its first performance in October 2006, enjoyed enormous success, touring London, Germany and China in little over a year.

It is no regular piece of theatre, based on Sophocles’ Oedipus the King play and writings of Sigmund Freud and is, according to director Gavin Quinn, “part play, part theatre, part performance, part music”. Highbrow as it may sound; Quinn also insists that the show is not heavy. “It’s a very simple conceit really: Oedipus in suburbia… There’s nothing at all convoluted or complicated about it.”

The story takes place in the back garden of a suburban house and revolves around a garage band that has been formed by the onstage family as a therapy project, and jumps to and from the original Oedipus story upon which it was based.

“At one point you do get the whole Oedipus story, at other points you get more abstractions based around a theme. It doesn’t always follow a linear path”.

The show deals, as the stories of Oedipus do, with the prickly issue of sexuality in the family, but Quinn is confident that this does not make an audience uncomfortable. “It looks at the idea of myths as a warning… and how we, in a way, tribally accept these taboos in society or in family.” Rather than feeling uncomfortable, he believes that audiences engage particularly well with the performance. “There’s a big payoff for the audience. It’s not boring, it’s lively and it’s to the point.”

This spirited atmosphere is assisted by the live soundtrack from Gordon is a Mime, the purpose-made band providing the “Eighties bedroom music” throughout the show. The multi-talented cast make up the band and have even released an album (Oedipus Loves You) and are in the process of putting together another, entitled Suspicious Minds.

Not all of the cast are natural musicians but they all have to perform with the band as the music is a core part of the story. “We wrote the familylymusic for the show, to give it the atmosphere and the right characteristic. Singing is very different emotionally than acting, and it can go places where perhaps you can’t go when you’re acting, orspeaking it. Singing… there’s a different feeling to it.”

The actors also perform under the curious conditions of remote control acting, where they are controlled or fed by Gavin as their live director through a radio head set system. This, according to Gavin is “just another device to tell the story” but it is also something that exemplifies the idea of fate and even religion within the story. “It’s the idea of the lines being spoken to the actors but they can’t change the lines… having no control, it represents in a way the idea of God.”

Aesthetics are important for the show, there is a little bit of blood and guts to watch out for but “it’s quite controlled- it’s more imagery than action”.

Oedipus Loves You is showing at the Project Arts Centre, Templebar from 27th November to 6th December with a preview on 26th November and no show on Sunday. Admission is €22 (Concession €17) Preview €15.