The BBC has announced that Christopher Eccleston is to return to the radio in Drama On 3’s ‘Oedipus The King’ by Anthony Burgess on Sunday 26th February at 9 pm.

Never before performed or heard in the UK, Anthony Burgess’ ‘Oedipus the King’ is a robust and powerful version of Sophocles’ classic text. This broadcast, part of Radio 3’s Burgess Centenary programming, will be the first time it has been spoken or heard in over 40 years. Burgess is one of the best-known English literary figures of the latter half of the 20th century. His dystopian satire ‘A Clockwork Orange is his best-known novel.

Christopher Eccleston – a keen Burgess fan who used to run a market stall in the area of Manchester where Burgess grew up – stars as Oedipus. He will be joined Don Warrington (Doctor Who – Rise of the Cybermen) as Creon, Adjoa Andoh best known to Whovians as Marth Jones’ mum Francine as Jocasta; and Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter) as Tiresias, the ancient blind prophet who was born both man and woman.

The drama includes an invented language that Burgess created especially for the 1974 production of the piece at The Guthrie Theatre, USA.

The music was composed for the original theatre production by Obie Award-winning and Grammy Award-nominated composer, Stanley Silverman. This time it will be performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester-based Kantos Chamber Choir perform the music, conducted by Clark Rundell.

The programme is produced by Polly Thomas and Eloise Whitmore for Naked Productions.

Synopsis

Oedipus starts the drama as a powerful king, who has risen from an impoverished newcomer to Thebes by freeing the land from the curse of the monstrous Sphinx, solving a seemingly simple yet impenetrable riddle. Over the course of the play his world unravels. A new blight is on the land and he is determined to rescue his people by rooting out the cause. Oedipus is an iconic anti-hero, doomed from the outset to disaster, yet blithely storming ahead, oblivious to his own demise, convinced that he has managed to outwit fate.

Burgess’ rendition of a classic story focuses on the contradictions and complexities of a proud man’s downfall: “Oedipus is the cause of the state’s disease and disruption but also, through his discovery of and expiation for sin, the cause of its recovered health. He is a criminal but also a saint. In other words, he is a tragic hero.”

Cast:
  • Oedipus – Christopher Eccleston
  • Creon – Don WarringtonJocast – Adjoa Andoh
  • First Elder – John Shrapnel
  • Second Elder/Tiresias – Fiona Shaw
  • Third Elder/Shepherd – Vincent Ebrahim
  • Other Elder/Messenger/Officer – Darrell D’Silva
  • Child – Katie Kemp-Riley
  • Other Children – Tess Robinson, Ryley Nixon, Eleanor Read, Lucy Godson and Billie Robinson

This programme can be heard worldwide via BBC iPlayer Radio

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