American Players Theatre: Oedipus

Yes this is the classic Greek play. Yes Sophocles is alive and well. But director David Daniel did an amazing and masterful job in his adaptation of the play to appeal to 21st Century audiences without losing any of the angst and gravitas of the original!

Here the poetry flows more smoothly and recognizable to the modern ear. And Mr. Daniel’s clever insertions of the vernacular and current adages brings out an audience chuckle or two and balances out some of the weight of the story.

I will sit here quietly while you stamp and shout

And Mr. Daniel’s Greek chorus is more limber and interactive and helps guide us along through the story! Thank them for that…and their solo interjections and asides provide a few insights we might not catch without their help!

Gavin Lawrence is a masterful Oedipus and he plays against the image that the chorus provides of their king that we too are as befuddled by his confusion as are they. The fearful man who rants about the stage in a way unbecoming to the king we expected…and Mr. Lawrence makes us totally forget the clear level headed man we thought would take charge!

Creon, Oedipus’ brother in law and uncle, is played by a very regal and earnest Corey Jones…who clearly is undone by the ranting Oedipus. Of course he is working with knowledge of only half the story that the rest of use are privy too. But Mr. Jones holds his character up and plays the loyal, honest, royal personage to the last!

Left: Sun Mee Chomet as Jocasta, center Gavin Lawrence as Oedipus, right Ted Deacy as the Corinthian. Screen capture by Ed Heinzelman

And the most in control on center stage is Creon’s sister and the mother/wife of Oedipus, Jocasta, as played by Sun Mee Chomet . At first regal with a bit of haughty, she puts both Creon and Oedipus in their place. Ms. Chomet makes her character believable and forceful and makes clear attempts to hide her vulnerability until the truth is revealed.

Perhaps the most effective character in this adaptation is La Shawn Banks as the blind prophet, Tiresias. He stays the course in the face of an angrier and angrier Oedipus as he introduces the story line that will eventually unravel the fairy tale that is Thebes and destroy the king but will cure the plague and all other ills that are destroying the city.

And my personal favorite? Ted Deasy as the Corinthian messenger who believes that he is bringing good (but sad) news and is happy to tell his stories since he has no knowledge of the consequences to Oedipus, Jocasta, or Thebes. On one hand the most entertaining and the other the most congenial character in the play.

the Greek Chorus; photo courtesy of the American Players Theatre

I am sorry that this response is so late in the play’s run. I watched this via the At Home streaming option and because of technical difficulties it wasn’t available until this past Monday…and I couldn’t get to it until yesterday. The live version runs at the American Player Theatre’s Hill Theatre through tomorrow October 9, 2021. And because of the technical difficulties with the streaming version, that will now be available through October 24th! Information on the play is here and ticket information is here!

And please leave comments after reading this post. If you are a first time commenter I will have to approve your post before it will appear! But you will be good to go in the future!

So ends what I am calling APT’s 2021 Greek Triad with An Iliad and A Phoenix Too Frequent!

2 Replies to “American Players Theatre: Oedipus”

  1. I agree with your review, Ed. We had to zoom the play when very bad weather was predicted for the evening of our ticketed performance, which I regretted even more after watching it on our small screen. The intensity of emotions and the compelling/commanding delivery cried out to be seen live. Gavin Lawrence, like James DaVita and Randall Duk Kim, really is stunning in the amount of intensity per inch he delivers! Likewise, LaShawn Banks, who is always thrilling. While this play was really something to see, it would have been even greater to feel the force of that play, live!

  2. The acceptance of perspective scenery in the theatre is of profound importance because it marked a movement away from the architectural stage to the representational and pictorial stage. wings are set parallel to the front of the stage in a series from front to back while borders are hung above each set of wings.

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