Oedipus Rex: “Great Spectacle at the King’s Theatre”, Glasgow, March 1912


The above was the “IMPORTANT ATTRACTION” advertised on page six of The Glasgow Herald, on Tuesday the 26th of March, 1912. On page seven of the same issue, is the paper’s critic’s review, which is headed “GREAT SPECTACLE AT THE KING’S THEATRE.”


It opens:


“Is it the art of Reinhardt or the genius of Sophocles that is the compelling attraction? That question insistently suggested itself during the opening stages of Mr Martin Harvey’s remarkable production of ‘Oedipus Rex.’ It cannot be claimed that there is a demonstrative demand for the classical drama, but the present day public are inordinately sensitive to spectacle. Reinhardt comes at the psychological moment. And in regard to ‘Oedipus’ the appetite for the pictorial had been cunningly whetted; there was promise of something spectacularly unique. It may therefore be answered that the art of Reinhardt, plus the undoubted vogue of Mr Hardy, chiefly accounted for the eager audience which crowded every available part of the King’s Theatre. They found the familiar interior strangely transformed. Into the proscenium opening had been fixed the facade of a Greek palace, sombre square pillars, and from the stage to almost midway into the stalls space fell black steps, on either side of a black altar, in the centre of which gleamed an urn. The faint odour of incense filled the theatre, and strains of music floated from an unseen orchestra.”

The critic provides further details about the lighting, and the appearance of a swarm of ‘posturing supers,’ who ‘grouped themselves round the altar steps, and with outstretched arms, gleaming in a weird light, made swelling cries for ‘Oedipus’. So opened the play, and in such a setting, for over two hours without pause, was evolved the immortal drama of incest and death.”


The review continues over another four paragraphs, providing greater insight into the production and the performance of the cast. Martin Harvey was ‘Oedipus’. Mary Rorke played ‘Jocasta’.