The tragedy Oedipus at Colonus, the second play in a trilogy, written in the 5th century B.C. by Sophocles, is set in ancient Greece, in a grove just outside of Athens, called Colonus. The main theme of the play is blindness to the truth, which is demonstrated in many manners.
Oedipus is physically blind, but he also uses destiny as a blinder. He believes that the things that he has done and the misfortunes that have come from his actions, specifically killing his father and marrying and having children with his mother, were part of the doom prophesized by Apollo and thus he cannot take responsibility for those actions (Sophocles, “Oedipus at Colonus”). After having cursed him, Apollo also told Oedipus that his final place of resting would be in the residing area of Athens, and that the city in which he was buried would receive good fortune (Sophocles, “Oedipus at Colonus”). Believing this was his destiny, Oedipus refused to leave Colonus.
The director, Don Taylor, created a more modernistic version of the ancient Greek play, which was published by Films for the Humanities & Sciences in 1984. In his adaption of the famous tragedy, Don Taylor mystified the failure to see things clearly, which was emphasized throughout the performance in many different aspects, including the scenery, lighting, and costumes.
The scenery is essential in accentuating the theme of blindness as well as the concept of mystery. The thrust stage is filled with sharp tall rocks that surround its oval shape, with flatter rocks in the middle that act as seats. On one side of the rocks, the spot where the Chorus considers holy ground are vines. The rocks that partially block the audience’s view of the stage emphasize the concept of blindness, whereas the grim grey colours of the surroundings and rocks highlight the ambiguous mood.
The lighting is another essential part of creating the mysterious directorial concept. The lights in the backdrop are so bright white that they make the scene appear ambiguous to the audience, giving the illusion that they are in the mythical past, and that things are perhaps not as they appear to be. However, near the end of the performance, when the time has come for Oedipus’ death, the backdrop turns red. This dramatic colour change reflects the increase in Oedipus’ energy level (Scott-Kemmis, Judy). Where he was previously seen as frail and leaning on his daughter, as the time of his death approaches he manages to lead Theseus to his mysterious grave without any assistance.
The costumes chosen as well as the colour scheme are reflective of the themes of the play and the directorial concept of the performance. The chorus was made up of the...