Oedipus Rex at LCC
A classic Greek tragedy gets a modern twist at Leeward Community College Theatre’s production of Oedipus Rex. The age-old tale of history’s most famous motherlover is updated to the corporate boardroom under the direction of LCC’s Assistant Professor of Theatre Betty Burdick.
Burdick re-imagines Oedipus a CEO of a major modern corporation, and the chorus as his shareholders, played by a handful of girls in black miniskirts. The “spark of a solar flare” leaves the staff of Thebes Corporation without utilities or healthcare, and Oedipus becomes determined to discover the root of corruption within his company that has led to this disaster. While the performances are powerful, Burdick’s decision to keep the original dialogue intact causes confusion when contemporary men in suits refer to “kingdoms” and “lords.”
Actor Joshua Weldon, cast as Oedipus, is full of passion, but he lacks the charisma the character is credited with, and hardly seems the beloved leader of Thebes. Weldon rages, making it difficult to feel the empathy typically garnered by Oedipus’ circumstances. Andrea Valencia, on the other hand, delivers a strong and confident performance as Jocasta, Oedipus’ wife, and mother. Her final stage exit effectively evokes emotion from the crowd as she begs Oedipus to quit his search for answers after she realizes the truth.
LCC’s Oedipus Rex presents an interesting take on the ancient tragedy, with several strong performances. However, beat boxing and break dancing routines feel out of place amongst shrines for Apollo (even if they’re well-executed), and what business does a “shepherd” have with a CEO anyways? Burdick’s idea is underdeveloped, retaining so much of the play’s original plot and script that the suits seem an afterthought.