Tramp costume from the English National Opera production of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera Greek
Brown raincoat with attached rubber gloves, plastic tubing, syringes, rope, plastic bin liners, newspaper, and rope netting
Musuem no. S.1097-1995
Based on Steven Berkoff’s play, this was the Oedipus myth transferred to 1980s London. It became a scathing parable of the greed, poverty and intolerance of the 1980s. The plague of Sophocles’ original became the urban decay of Thatcherite Britain. Turnage’s scores were always notable for their eclecticism, and critics spotted influences as diverse as Benjamin Britten, Miles Davis and Charlie Mingus, Igor Stravinsky, Puccini and Chas & Dave, but they were influences, not plagiarism, and the final effect was uniquely Turnage. Like the music, the costumes, designed by David Blight, reflected the contemporary world. This extraordinary costume is for one of the down-and-outs. It is basically an ordinary raincoat, onto which are piled layers of torn newspaper, bin-bags, rubber tubing, hypodermic syringes, rubber gloves, rope and other types of litter and urban detritus.