Usually I catch plays that are really good on the last weekend of it’s run and it almost happened with Oedipus El Rey as well but I’m glad that it didn’t because I can now share it with you and hopefully I can get you into the seats so you can see great theatre!
I’ve been at the Boston Court Theatre a few times, not just for their evening productions but also in the afternoon for their afternoon programs. And this theatre has not disappointed me yet. Well, actually they did and they do becasue they don’t have bike parking, but they provide public transit info as well as bike metro info, which is awesome (wish they would put that info above the driving directions though, so more would think of it.) But their plays and programs haven’t disappointed me. And I walked away last night again in love with LA Theatre.
In this gritty reimagining of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, the modern kingdom is the barrio of East LA. Our ruler, just released from prison, is in search of a new place called home. Along the way he faces off with a wounded queen, a three-headed born-again serpent and a king with road rage. Is our young homeboy doomed to suffer his destiny? The word on the street is not good, but great love conquers all. A shared world premiere with San Francisco’s Magic Theatre.
The actors were fantastic and I especially loved the Chorus! Not only were they super tight and in sync with each other while maintaining their own personalities but each actor (Leandro Cano, Daniel Chacon and Michael Uribes) also had to take on various roles that they all slipped into smoothly and convincingly. I looooved all of them! They were marvelous!
Daniel Chacon I fell in love with! Aside from playing the Chorus, he also played the brother of Jacosta (Marlene Forte – smart Chica because she has her own website 🙂 ) and I saw him literally change in front of me with his physique as well as his voice during this journey in his life. He was a joy to watch!
Winston J. Rocha was also part of the Chorus and he also played the role of Tiresias, “father” of Oedipus and he brought me to tears. And so did Marlene Forte. Her tears on stage, her emotions on stage were raw. She lived every moment and it was beautiful to watch! All the actors were so beautiful, it is rare that I experience that kind of realness on stage.
Justin Huen played Oedipus and I liked him, but I wish he would have shown me how he changed during his journey. He was a fantastic Oedipus but I think director Jon Lawrence Rivera could have helped him with the arc of the character, as he changed from boy to man, as he changed from man to god, and as he changed from god to man again. These were important moments that I felt were missing and I think this should have been the directors job to bring out of the actor. But Justin was beautiful to watch nevertheless. I believed his love to his woman, his lust to conquer and physically he portrayed Oedipus wonderfully!
I loved that I got to see a beautiful age range on stage which is rare in LA. The cast was very good and I know if I should direct a film or a play or if I were to help out in a casting, I would love to call these actors in! They were brave and they were very, very good and they worked together as a team without trying to overdo or upstage each other.
The stage was beautifully stark (design by John H. Binkley) and I’m amazed over and over again how little can tell so much if a life performance is directed well. The lighting design (by Jeremy Pivnick) was powerful and very effective to stage the various locations without having to change the setting and the sound design (by Robert Oriol) added wonderfully to the drama.
I’m not a reviewer and I don’t know much about how to review a play. I simply know when I enjoy something and when I don’t. As an actor, I’m super aware of actors choices and also if they are in their space or if they are looking at themselves while performing. Certainly I know when I do that.
But this play was great and I wanted to share it with you, so you can go and see it before it closes on April 11th.
OEDIPUS EL REY
BOSTON COURT THEATRE
70 North Mentor Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91116
Gold Line – Get off at the Lake Street station. Cross south of the freeway, go east one block to Mentor Avenue, and walk south three blocks to Boston Court. The theatre is on the left hand side of Mentor.
Metro Bus – Numbers 180, 181, or 485. Try the Metro Trip Planner courtesy of ExerienceLA.
Ride your Bike: Bicycle route planner courtesy of BikeMetro.