Books Magazine

Audible Theatre Collection: Oedipus

By Pamelascott

The three Theban plays by Sophocles - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone - are great landmarks of Western theatre. They tell the story of Oedipus, King of Thebes, who was destined to suffer a terrible fate - to kill his father, marry his mother, and beget children of the incestuous union. He does this unknowingly but still has to suffer terrible consequences, which also tragically affect the next generation.

These three plays were written around 450 BC, with the playwright following the established convention of presenting the story through main characters but using a chorus - sometimes one voice, sometimes more - as an independent commentator that also occasionally participates in the drama. When the audiences of ancient Athens went to the amphitheatres to see the plays, they would have known the basic story of poor Oedipus.

Nevertheless, the power of Sophocles' retelling made the Theban plays deeply horrifying and affecting - and this is still true now, some 2,500 years later. There is also a strong contemporary resonance for us, for in the 20th century the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud famously adopted the story to illustrate his Oedipus complex, which, he argued, was a condition of the unconscious mind in boys - that they want to sleep with their mothers. It is interesting that through the character of the queen, Jocasta, in Oedipus the King, Sophocles states this unequivocally.

Oedipus the King is well known. The other two are less so: Oedipus at Colonus, which deals with his last days, and Antigone, which casts the spotlight on his daughter, who, as part of the accursed bloodline, chooses to act in a way she believes is right, whatever the consequences. Yet they are equally powerful and moving.

This audio production, with Jamie Glover as Oedipus and Hayley Atwell as his daughter, Antigone, is a world premiere audio recording of all three plays.

With the authoritative but modern translation by Ian Johnston, specially commissioned new music from the English composer Roger Marsh, and a cast of outstanding actors, this Audible Original presentation of Sophocles' Theban plays will be listened to not once but many times.

As an Audio Show - free for members - when you add Audible Theatre Collection: Oedipus to your library, you'll get three plays, with runtimes that vary from 90 to 120 minutes.


(Audible Original, 9 May 2018, 5 hours 10 minutes, audiobook, Audible Show, freebie from @audibleuk)



This was a well presented adaptation of three famous plays. Oedipus's tragic story is famous (or infamous) and has been the source of inspirations for writers of all types for a really long time. I'm most familiar with Antigone after studying Seamus Heaney's The Burial at Thebes. The quality of each play and the various performers was very high. The plays run no more than 90 minutes or so they were easy to listen to. The plays were a faithful rendition of Sophocles's work but could have been so much more if they had been a modern take or tried something a bit original. Still, I enjoyed myself.

Audible Theatre Collection: Oedipus

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