In the back of my mind, I knew that this play didn't get stellar reviews, but I didn't care. It's a new Sam Shepard play! Starring Stephen Rea (who I've never seen onstage before)! Plus I was going with a handsome chum! What could go wrong?! Well, nothing actually. I had a lovely evening. No, I don't think this is a great play, but I think that something occasionally-interesting-but-maybe-not-so-completely-great by Sam Shepard is still better than a lot of stuff out there...
Given that Shepard has dabbled in high and low poetry in much of his work over the years, I'm actually surprised it's taken him so long to do this kind of piece. As the title suggests, there are 'variations' on the theme of Oedipus, along with representations of the actual Oedipus story. The variations even include a musical score, played underneath to emphasize the mood.
The variations/stories/scenes don't play chronologically, or even make much sense from scene to scene, but cumulatively, it does add up to something intriguing. Maybe more intellectually intriguing as a dramatic exercise than as a full theatrical experience, but intriguing nonetheless. I especially enjoyed the ideas that Shepard throws out about how these kinds of stories are as old as time, yet still happen now. There was a quality that the stories were happening then, happening now and will happen again. I liked that. How hubris and rage and revenge aren't antiquated ideas, but things we as humans still struggle with today. That was compelling to me.
|photo credit: Matthew Murphy|