Greek – The Synopsis

Greek – Dad

Greek / Open-Air on the parking deck
An opera in two acts by Mark-Anthony Turnage; Libretto by Mark-Anthony Turnage and Jonathan Moore after Steven Berkoff’s 1980 verse tragedy of the same name based on “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles
Conductor: Yi-Chen Lin
Stage director: Pınar Karabulut
With Dean Murphy, Irene Roberts, Seth Carico, Heidi Stober
Premiere on 27 August 2021


1. Act

“So, I was spawned in Tufnell Park that’s no more than a stone’s throw from the Angel / a monkey’s fart from Tottenham or a bolt of phlegm from Stamford Hill / it’s a cesspit, right … a scum-hole dense with the drabs who prop up corner pubs, the kind of pub where ye old arse-holes assemble…”

Eddy grows up in London’s proletarian East End, where everything disgusts him: the Nazi rants of his racist, drunkard father, his submissive mother, the brawling, disaffected crowds in the pubs. Eddy wants to get out of there, leave the swamp behind. When his parents start rehashing that old story – a fortune-teller at a fair predicted that Eddy would kill his father and sleep with his mother – Eddy finally has enough. He decides to leave, no matter where.

His parents are worried about Eddy. And not without cause, for the country is in a desolate state. The city is drowning in rubbish, rats proliferate and society is increasingly, brutally unhinged. Indeed, Eddy does not fare well: during a street fight, the police beat him up – “SMASH, CRASH, SPLATTER, KERACK!”

Eddy seeks respite in a café, but even there the atmosphere soon turns sour. Eddy gets into a fight with the waitress. Her husband, the café’s owner, interferes, and the situation escalates: Eddy kills the owner. The waitress mourns her husband, but not for long: Eddy consoles her, and the two start feeling trust and intimacy. Because Eddy reminds the woman of her own son, she tells his story: during a boat tour on the Thames, she lost two-year-old Tony when a bomb exploded. The only thing she has left of her child is an oil-stained teddy bear. Eddy and the woman feel a connection. They sleep with each other.


2. Act

10 years later, Eddy and the waitress are a successful couple; the café is doing well. Eddy’s parents come to visit. They talk of this and that, including the plague that still paralyses the country. Supposedly the fault lies with a sphinx, and someone must solve her riddle in order to liberate the country. Eddy wants to vanquish the monster and sets out. The sphinx rants and rages at the sight of him, foaming with hatred of all men. In vain, however: Eddy is able to solve the riddle and kills the sphinx.

Eddy’s parents and wife celebrate him as their hero. On this occasion, his parents confess that Eddy is not their biological son, and tell him his story: after a bomb exploded on the Thames, they found a little two-year-old boy holding an oil-stained teddy bear. They threw the bear back into the water, but decided to raise the boy as their own.

Eddy understands …



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