THE BOY is in bed with mummy. Father and Mother are somewhat anguished. There is blindness in the family. It all appears somewhat, familiar. But Steven Berkoff’s Greek evolves the “Greek Play” into the “British Play” wherein there is a ravished state of British Plague where it is believed that violence will perpetuate successful evil.Hayden Murphy, THE SCOTSMAN, 21 August 1985
This is a strong intellectual piece performed with intelligence and marvellous lucidity by this Manchester group in Marco’s Leisure Centre.
Eddy (George Dillon) is rough and refuses to adapt but takes on Doreen (Denise Evans) while Dad (Callum Convery) manages the cafe with sphinx Mum (Karen Lucas). To tell more would be to spoil a very old and intriguing tale. Suffice to say Berkoff’s play as directed by Rikki Tarascas and performed by Fusion is fabulous.
Main character Eddy is Oedipus, the adopted child of English urban non-culture, the longed-for war-dead-replacement for a tower-housed couple whose decency is worn through to a bigotry fed by the folk memory of England’s imperial past. Eddy leaves this couple to kill his real father (with language), spend a decade in his real mother’s bed, and take over and expand their café. Before all is revealed and we leave an enlightened Eddy agonising over whether or not to gouge out his bleeding jellies and admit his role of carrier, his vituperative accuracy accounts for the fusion of plague-spawning rubbish that is England, a land of abortions and masturbation shops, and the rats have fought with England’s perceived enemies (drunken Scotch football fans, dynamite-toting Paddies, Blacks, Pakis, Commies).I.M., Festival Times, 1985
Behind the closely gathered mayhem is a script verbose at times but generally lithe, and violent, and incisive, and horribly revealing, and funny. Releasing it is a superlative cast with George Dillon as Eddy particularly astonishing. This is alternative theatre very near to a conceivable peak.
FIRST there was No Alternative and Theatre Totale. Now there’s Fusion. Once there was Decadence, Steven Berkoff’s savage ripping apart of British society, so impressively performed by No Alternative. Now there’s Greek, Steven Berkoff’s savage ripping apart of British society impressively performed by Fusion.Alan Hulme, MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 5 October 1985
Little has actually changed. The combining of the two fringe groups means there are four actors instead of two. And while Mr Berkoff bases Greek around the Oedipus legend he has the same message he always has – the accepted values of British society are rotten and wrong and should be changed.
The play takes the Fifties to today as its time span. Eddy sets out through a plague ridden society where vomiting and copulation seem the main preoccupations. When it is finally revealed that his wife is actually his mother, the big question is posed – what’s worse, asks Berkoff, sharing a bed with your mum and breaking one of society’s strongest taboos, or killing off millions in wars and continuing the violence ever after?
There are exceptionally high-energy performances from the whole company, particularly from George Dillon as adventurous Eddy. Sporting a ginger cockscomb quiff he struts and spouts and dominates with a central commanding performance of considerable charisma.
STEVE BERKOFF’S re-working of the Oedipus myth belongs to Eighties Britain, where frailty is despised. Closer in spirit to Nietzsche than Sophocles, this tragic hero turns on his fate. He’s also turned on by it and, scorning the eye-plucking guilt, defiantly re-enters his mother’s womb.Robin Thornber, THE GUARDIAN, 30 January 1986
So it’s not for the faint-hearted, nor for those who lack the strong stomach required to take Berkoff’s virulent, violent way with words. His imagery, like that of the Jacobean dramatists of decadence, is all putrefaction and pus – except when it’s celebrating the joys of sex, and even then the lyricism has an aggressive male thrust.
But for those whose taste in theatre is astringent and robust enough, Greek is a soaring, seering joy, a breathtaking ride of a verbal roller-coaster where Eddy, an East End war baby, flays his father and seduces his mother with words.
The richness of Berkoff’s writing requires little in the way of visual aids – no scenery, no props – but it needs totally committed physical performances from the actors.
It gets this here in a riveting production by Fusion, a company formed last year by amalgamating two small groups from Manchester, No Alternative and Theatre Totale, both dedicated to Combining verbal pyrotechnics with powerful visual imagery.
Dressed in simple, loose-fitting costumes – as if for black and martial arts – the four players (Callum Convery, George Dillon, Denise Evans, and Fiona Keen) transport us to a nightmare no-man’s land of epidemic plague and untrammelled enterprise. We’re whisked from council fiat to millionaire’s mansion, confronted with cryptic seers, and with a final chilling vision as the company, directed by Rikki Tarascas, forms the triumphal arch of the mother’s womb.
I saw it as a crowded and appreciative Treadmill in Sheffield. It’s at the Unity theatre in Liverpool for the rest of this week and then on tour.
GREEK is a modern reworking of the ancient tale of Oedipus.Alan Clarke, LIVERPOOL DAILY POST, 31 January 1986
It is a powerful story told by its author, Steven Berkoff in strong language. It needs, and in this production gets, a production that can match it blow for blow.
The central performance by George Dillon as Eddy is the hinge on which the whole evening swings.
He is called upon to express a wide range of emotions. His voice sweeps from the tiny to the tremendous as he changes from the council flat wide boy to the whole food king
Physically, too, he meets the needs of a production that is often dance-like and always demanding.
While he plays the same part throughout, the rest of the cast have to take on all the other characters.
Denise Evans as the waitress, who becomes first his wife and then his mother, was riveting.
The ability that separates the best actors from the merely good is the ability to react. Her reaction to the revelation of her real relationship to Eddy was one of the high points of the evening.
Callum Convery as Eddy’s dad, and at one point as a very fetching Teddy, and Fiona Keen as his mum and the Sphinx were equally convincing.
Since there was no set and the actors never left the stage our concentration was focussed completely on the action.
Such conditions test the ability of the cast and the director, Rikki Tarascas, to the full. It was a test they all passed with flying colours.
FOR sheer power and raw energy, The Fusion Theatre Company are unsurpassable. In their moving performance of Steven Berkoff’s ‘Greek’.Ali Haynes, LEICESTER MAIL, 15 May 1986
The stunning play was certainly not for those easily shocked. But the abundance off sex, four-letter words and violence is far from gratuitous – it would have been impossible to convey the strength of emotion and reality of modern situations without them.
Berkoff’s interpretation of the original Oedipus story beings it bang up-to-date with coverage of topical issues of chid cruelty, poverty and street violence.
But the play is far from being mere political propaganda. At times it is hilarious in the mould of the best alternative humour, raising more laughs from the audience than many predictions billed as comedy.
The Manchester-based Fusion Company have been touring with the production since August’s Edinburgh Festival. And although they were giving their 120th performance at the Haymarket Studio on Monday, they showed absolutely no sign off becoming jaded.
All four members of the cast played their parts with enormous feeling and depth of character – making the absence of costumes, set and props irrelevant – such details would have distracted from the enormous strength of their performance.
‘Greek’ in all its savagery and fire is a breath of fresh air from The Fringe Theatre, which undoubtedly deserves a much wider audience. For those who can stand the heat, it runs at the Studio until Saturday.