Archive | March, 2013

Oedipus Rex XX/XY has a Complex of its own

26 Mar

Oedipus Rex XX/XY

 

March 24, 2013

 

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

 

It is rare to see classic Greek tragedies performed. So I was excited to see The Faux-Real Theatre Companies interpretation of this iconic work of Sophocles. And Oedipus was going to be played by a… woman. I was intrigued, to say the least. However, after seeing it, I was left divided. I found some parts to be superb, while others were under-whelming. Still, I was happy to have seen the production.

 

Upon entering the theater, the audience is greeted by Grecians dancing to live music, which was one of the highlights of the production. The actors moved with a sense of purpose and passed out wine (grape fruit juice) and grapes to the audience. I found the choreography to be inventive and stunning.

 Finally, the music died down and we were told that we were going to see this play done, cirque ancient times. Yet, I was never quite sure whether the actors were paying homage to this style of theater or mocking it. Unfortunately, it did not seem as if Stephenie Regina, Oedipus, completely decided about this issue. Her performance, though intense and energetic, was over the top a lot of the time. I wish she would have let the style go a little and explore her character with honest emotion. I found her to be one dimensional often and almost farcical at points.

Luckily, the chorus, who never leaves the stage was awesome. The members were cohesive, which made the ensemble a bright part of the play. I enjoyed how they moved and found humor in this otherwise dark play. Similarly, Creeon, played by Jy Murphy, found the most honesty on stage and provided some of the strongest work. Also, Jason Scott Quinn, as Tiresias is captivating.

 

I’m all up for making bold choices and having a female play Oedipus is such a choice. However, I didn’t find and particular meaning or reason as to why this was the route taken. I would have liked to see it carried out somehow throughout the production. She was clearly a woman in appearance but identifying herself as a man. Was she supposed to be transgender? There seemed to be little explanation for this role reversal, and as such made it seem like art for arts sake, which is problematic. Yet, I left the theater feeling like I had visited ancient Greece, which is a feat all by itself!

 

Oedipus Rex XX/XY played March 7-24, 2013 at La Mama’s first floor theater.

A Lie of the Mind Gives us a Mindful to Think About

5 Mar

A Lie of the Mind

March 1, 2013

 

Understanding Sam Shepard is hard. Therefore, producing his work is an even bigger challenges. As usual, The Seeing Place dives right in and never backs off. Their total commitment to this beast of a play is compelling and commendable. Simply, A Lie of the Mind, does not dissapoint

At the beginning of the play  we are introduced to Jake, who has just beaten his wife, Beth to a pulp. As a result of their domestic violence, Beth has received a Traumatic Brain Injury, which severely alters her life. The play follows Beth’s determination to live again and Jake’s seeming remorse. But when Jake’s brother Frankie shows up at Beth’s house, things get really interesting, and Shepard-esque. We start seeing the obscurity of the characters come to life more and more as the play progresses. And Shepard doesn’t fail, his climax is both startling and, in a word, weird.

So that’s the basic plot. Well, there’s nothing “basic” about this production. Erin Cronican, Beth, digs deep and finds the will of her character to survive. (I have seen Cronican perform numerous times, but never on this profound level.) Her struggle, as Beth, to regain some sense of “normalcy” is palpable and inspiring. Similarly, Brandon Walker, Jake, offers a noteworthy performance as the scared abuser, struggling to come to terms with what he did. Both Cronican and Walker are captivating in their own right.

Alan Altschuler, who plays Baylor, Beth’s crude father, is menacing and commanding and Jason Wilson, as Frankie, Jake’s brother, serves the story well. Phillip Lakin, Beth’s brother, is the biggest revelation. He comes on stage with an incredible sense of urgency and intensity that this play requires. Lakin is a scene stealer, in the best sense of the word.

The other cast members are fine, but I do not doubt that they will grow as the run continues. This is definitely a must see. The play raises many relevant topics; from domestic violence to disability. The Seeing Place is not letting it go, as it should be, unnoticed. They are offering talk-backs about some of the hot spots that this play deals with. This is truly Theater That Matters and I hope you will go see it and reflect, as I did, on the timeliness of the issues found in the play.

A Lie of the Mind plays March 1 – 17, 2013, Wed-Sat @ 7pm; Sat & Sun @ 2pm  The Seeing Place @ ATA’s Sargent Theater 314 West 54th St. 4th Floor. NYC