Backstage of GREEK STREET with Peter Milligan
Author, Peter Milligan takes you backstage of GREEK STREET:
GREEK STREET is a rich and complex performance with many strange and sometimes frightening characters. So I thought I’d invite you backstage, so you can get of pants-down look at the actors in what is a very personal project for me.
CURSING AND NUDITY
I’m trying to keep this post free of cursing and nudity. This is ironic because there’s a good deal of cursing and nudity in GREEK STREET. For all its frenzied classical referencing this book tries to be a modern and realistic (sometimes magically realistic) take on life.
And I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot of nudity and cursing in my life.
A lot of the nudity comes from the ‘strippers” or chorus girls. And especially from Chantel, the “exotic dancer” who gives an often ironic prologue at the beginning of each issue. I really like Chantel. Behind that tough exterior is something more nuanced, more complex.
One of the things that intrigues me about Chantel – and about choruses in Greek Tragedy - is the issue of whether or not they should get involved in the action. If something awful is about to happen, should they try to stop it? Famously, the chorus in Medea is torn on this question when Medea is about to unleash her murderous revenge on Jason.
Chantel confronts this very problem, later in the series, when Eddie and Sandy’s young lives are at risk.
We’ve probably all been in the position of a Greek Chorus at one time. Wondering whether we should remain on-lookers…or get involved in the action.
As we’re back stage I must introduce you to our hero, Eddie. Obviously Eddie’s main role is as a kind of modern-day ragged Oedipus. But whereas Oedipus was of royal blood, our snotty-nosed anti-hero isn’t even sure where his blood comes from. Though primarily Oedipus there are times in the story when Eddie morphs into Orestes, another parent-killer. Eddie is an amalgam of a number of kids I knew when I was growing up. Two guys in particular. I lost track of them both…perhaps GREEK STREET is a way of me imagining a kind of life for them…
Never is Eddie more like transgressive Orestes than when pursued by our awful, modern-day re-incarnations of the those dreadful creatures of retribution…the furies…
THE HOUSE OF FUREY
The Fureys take centre stage – for some of the time – in ISSUE THREE of GREEK STREET, and we hint at their dark past--when an ancestor fought the (real life) London gangster, Bill Hill.
The Fureys are based loosely on a family I know. I’m pretty sure this family doesn’t read comics, which is good. Because believe me, they’re not the kind of people you mess with.
One of the characteristics of this book is that characters and events represent more than one character or aspect of Greek theatre. Therefore The Furey brothers represent the eumenides (or Furies), those terrible vehicles of justice and persecution. But I also see them as a kind of modern House of Atreus, that cursed line doomed by hubris, murder, and wickedness.
Believe me, there is a lot more hubris, wickedness and murder coming up.
Greek Tragedy is taking over my life. With this thought, I saw Phedre the other week. Jean Racine’s version of Hippolytus, translated by Ted Hughes. I’ve always thought that Euripedes’ Hippolytus is an incredibly interesting play. And seeing Phedre just confirmed to me how bloody modern it is. Its themes of forbidden love and falsely-declared rape, its utter darkness, still shock, after hundreds of years. Phaedra will appear in GREEK STREET episode six, in an unexpected and hopefully shocking way…
THE OLD STORIES
I suppose that’s the idea of GREEK STREET summed up. An effort at making my own versions of some of those old stories fresh and shocking. As Chantel might say,
“The old stories haven’t finished with us yet.”