Oedipus el Rey: An Exciting Bare Assed Re-Focusing of Greek Destino y Amor Maternal.2 min read

OEDIPUS EL REY Juan Castano, Julio Monge. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Oedipus el Rey: An Exciting Bare Assed Re-Focusing of Greek Destino y Amor Maternal.

By Ross for frontmezzjunkies

The painted wall and the panels of jailhouse bars tell a whole story before the first actor even jumps up onto the Shiva stage at The Public Theater. It’s a story of cultural imprisonment regardless of setting. How Greek tragedy and destiny equals American power dynamics and discrimination. In the thrilling new Oedipus el Rey, a beautiful and powerful mural with the Virgin Mary takes Center stage. It’s culturally specific and definitely Catholic, but by no means Greek. As Anna Deavere Smith spoke so extensively and powerfully about in Second Stage’s Notes from the Field as did Dominique Morisseau in Lincoln Center Theater’s Pipeline, so  does the Public’s Oedipus el Rey, by layering underneath a growing Greek storm cloud of mythology, the rain and wind of the Latino pipeline. The societal ‘destiny’ leads these souls from “borders and beliefs” to violent gangs and prison. These characters are all living behind bars essentially, that slide into place regardless of where they find themselves. Is this fate, we are asked, or is it just systematic oppression?

Joel Perez, Juan Castano, Brian Quijada, Reza Salazar. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

Clearly, this is a SoCa Latino-flavored reimagining of the famous Athenian tragedy written by Sophocles (first performed around 429 BC). It is a hurricane of a story that has inspired a famed psychoanalytic complex and a whole stack of psychotherapeutic textbooks devoted to its relational meaning. This time though, it is brought to the stage by acclaimed playwright Luis Alfaro (Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles) with an extremely creative stance by director Chay Yew (Public’s Durango). The prisoners jump start the proceedings with a Greek chorus style barrage of quick sharp dialogue setting the thematic and stylistic stage for all that this storm will rain down on these people caught in the crossfire. (for the full review, click here)

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Julio Monge (center) and the company of Oedipus El Rey. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.