Watching a strong willed character slowly dig a big hole for themselves can take your mind off the everyday woes of the world. This, perhaps, is why Greek theatre has managed to retain a vibrancy and life after thousands of years. Let’s go watch that sucka burn.
Here’s a tip – give yourself a treat and dig into the Oedipus plays. You’ll amaze your friends and impress your mum. Dad might let you borrow the car.
Our cinema experiences tend to fall into flashy or emotional sprints, not a lot of time for intricate set plot set up and then sit back and see what happens. No, going to the movies, though I love it, ain’t gonna give me a real fix in the Deep and Meaningful department. (Shameless plug)
For that we need to hit something a bit meaty and here is where I drag my old mate, Oedipus, onto centre stage.
Do you ever get that tingly feeling in a book when you can see what has to happen and you find yourself going “ooo….ooooo…” and wriggling a lot? Not because you need a comfort stop but because you just so want to watch the story unfold. Oedipus does that; there is a point in the story where we – the audience – get the inside dope on what has been going on before Oedipus does. And we all hold our breath as we watch the big guy work out that he has, in fact, killed his dad and married his mum. Oh, ewww!!!
Now that’s watching a train wreck.
This story is a great example of allowing a set of events to occur which drives the story forward with remorseless logic. No “it was all a dream” moments, no polar bears on the island, no sense that the author is making it up as they go.
Things happen in our lives, and some of the events we encounter are pretty grim. Like Oedipus we will all get news that sometimes rocks us to our foundations but they joy in the human condition lies in our ability to choose. To choose how we react.
We can’t help what happens to us but we can chose how we respond.
And it is this response that makes us human, and also makes us interesting. We want to see how the other person deals with the bad news, we watch as the accident happens and we see a little of ourselves in that response.
Which is what makes a story, doesn’t it? We have a protagonist, a situation and then we want to see what happens. So long as we have sympathy for the character and believe the situation then we will accept the story.