Most of us have at least some sense of how the Oedipus story ends: the mythical king of Thebes murders his father and marries his mother. But what brought about this famed Greek tragedy?

It’s an origin story director Matt Lutton explores in the Tom Wright-penned piece On the Misconception of Oedipus, which turns its eye to Jocasta and Laius, the parents who birthed a child that would bring about their downfall.

“There’s been a lot of creative license in that we’re looking at events that haven’t been written about. There is no actual clear source material for the events that happened before the famous Oedipus trilogy,” Lutton told the Star Observer.

Originally devised by Lutton, Wright and Zoe Atkinson, the play examines the unscientific nature of history – the way different people will retell the same event in very different ways, depending on their viewpoint.

“We’ve explored several versions of what Oedipus’s parents would’ve gone through had they been told that their child was basically going to bring about their own destruction,” he said.

While the Oedipal myth remains a kind of cultural shorthand, its shocking ending forming the basis of other stories, jokes and even a Freudian theory, Lutton said he was surprised to find that very few people really know the full story.

“Oedipus is such a common part of contemporary communication – we all talk about the Oedipal complex and reference Oedipus, but how many people have read the play or seen a performance of Oedipus? I asked everyone in the room at one of our first meetings about the play to tell me the story of Oedipus, and everyone just froze up,” he chuckled.

“We have the traces of it, but we don’t really know the story. That’s why these stories need to be told again and again.”

At only 28, Lutton has already made a considerable mark in the theatre world. Appointed the Artistic Director of Black Swan’s BSX-Theatre Program at 19, he is currently the Malthouse Theatre’s associate director and someone with a reputation for fearlessness when it comes to tackling ambitious theatrical productions. This Oedipal origin story is no different.

“In some ways we ask the audience to be a psychiatrist to Oedipus’s parents. You’re invited to try and wrestle with what fate means to them. They have very conflicting views about religion, faith and pre-determinism. You can see how their blood has been infused into their child.”

INFO: On the Misconception of Oedipus, August 10-26, Malthouse Theatre.

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