The information on: `The Darker Face of the Earth'

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What Is It?

A verse-play by the accolade-laden Rita Dove, the US's first African- American poet laureate - which transfers the tragedy of Oedipus Rex to pre-Civil War South Carolina

Who's In It?

Saskia Reeves plays Amalia Jennings, a plantation owner who has given birth to a child fathered by one of her slaves. Amalia's husband Louis is played by Phillip Joseph. Peter de Jersey is the expelled-son-turned- avenger, Augustus.

What They Say About It

"I found parts of this hard to view with a straight face. Instead of the inexorable necessity of tragedy, it too often serves up the lurid accidents of melodrama.... An atmospheric production which flatters highbrow hokum," Paul Taylor, The Independent.

"As a historical interpretation of a shameful era, Dove's play is judicious and sorrowful. As an allegory on the road that radical race relations must still travel, its message is formidable. But as for dramatic tension, there was always going to be a problem. It may not have been said so beautifully, but it has all been seen before," Maeve Walsh, The Independent on Sunday.

"An evening of plodding worthiness which confirms my suspicion that the road to theatrical hell is often paved with impeccable liberal intentions," Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph.

Where You Can See It

The Darker Face of the Earth is at the Cottesloe, SE1 (0171-452 3000), in rep to 11 November