Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

West End Players Guild Stages an Imaginative 'Oedipus'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

West End Players Guild Stages an Imaginative 'Oedipus'

Article excerpt

"Oedipus Apparatus" would be an unusual production in any theater. But at the West End Players Guild, the 106-year-old troupe long (long!) known for tasteful, traditional work, it's practically a revolution.

There were signs of change at the start of the 2016-17 season, which opened with a fine production of Tom Stoppard's intricate literary mystery, "Arcadia." The director was Ellie Schwetye, managing director of the offbeat Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble.

Wilder still is "Oedipus Apparatus," conceived and directed by Lucy Cashion, founder and artistic director of Equally Represented Arts. Last year, ERA's avant-garde production of "Trash Macbeth" turned the Scottish play inside-out, all the while reiterating its point about the high costs of disorder and materialism.

Here, Cashion explores Greek fatalism at the heart of the ancient tragedy. But this smart, no-toga production presents it in radically fresh terms. Cashion combines a modernized translation of Sophocles with a TV talk show featuring gods and oracles, a Buddhist nun's meditations on death and best of all physics lessons, derived from an ancient text attributed to Aristotle.

The laws of levers don't change; they are inevitable. So too, Sophocles (and Cashion) point out, is the fate of man in general and of one man in particular: the king of Thebes, Oedipus (Mitch Eagles).

Gripped by a plague, Thebes is dying, poisoned by a long-ago crime: the murder of the king. The killer must be found and punished to restore the city's health. Oedipus, a good king, vows to do so not realizing that he himself is the source of the pollution. His parents warned in prophecy that their son would one day kill his father and marry his mother banished him in infancy, expecting him to die of exposure.

But prophecies are not so easily thwarted. Adopted into another royal house, Oedipus did indeed fulfill the prophecy, killing his father, Laius, and marrying his mother, Jocasta (Maggie Conroy), without knowing who they were. It was inevitable, just like the motion of the big contraption that dominates the stage.

A kind of crude wheeled carriage that appears to run along tracks, the machine doesn't look pretty; sometimes it stops and has to start again. …

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