This wonderful and powerful new play was created by a young writer/artist/dancer/actor I admire very much. Alison Vodnoy took this ancient Greek play, Oedipus Rex, and made a new story out of it. She and fellow actor Darnell Benjamin brought the love, power and tragedy into clear focus.
Darnell was Oedipus, unwittingly pronouncing his own fate as he speaks to the citizens of Thebes. Allison was every other character, done with a minimum of props and with a deft touch. Jocasta’s hanging was real, to the eyes of those of us in the audience. And again, at the end, when Jocasta’s red scarf, the only reminder Oedipus has of his former life, is stolen, it is devastating for us as well.
And as always, I re-write these old texts. I cannot, for instance, tolerate Romeo and Juliet, the waste of all that joy and beauty. Here, I’d call for more transparency on the part of the Corinthian king, or even the shepherd. If Oedipus had known that was not his birth father, the entire tragedy could have been averted. He could have just stayed in Corinth, which needed his leadership, lived the noble life he pictured for himself, and probably brought Grecian democracy to the world much sooner.
And of course his real father, the King of Thebes, who cast him out, nonetheless died at the hands of his son. At the beginning and at the end of this re-telling, the question hanging in the air is – What is fate? Does it truly determine our beginnings and ends? My answer always is – don’t push the river. Work with the river, and find a way to assist the river in getting you where you want to go.
Whenever this play is performed again – go see it. It’s important.