The Court Theatre’s stunning production of Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy takes center stage on the University of Chicago campus until December 8. Played on an all-white, angular stage, with a chorus of just under a dozen white-robed members, the intimate playing space of this venue makes a powerful dramatic impact for this stage masterpiece.
Under the direction of Charles Newell, using the translation by Nicholas Rudall, the Court’s company performs the classic tale of Oedipus and his attempts to find the murderer of Laius, their former king of Thebes. But nothing is, of course, that simple, even with the help of his brother in law, Creon and a blind profit, Tiresias, who throws blame on Oedipus. Jocasta, Oedipus’s wife, offers comfort and reminds him bandits killed the late king and oracles said only the son of the king would have killed the leader. Other tragic events occur, painful truths revealed, and Oedipus is eventually punished blinding himself.
The Court’s ensemble, led by Kelvin Roston, Jr. as Oedipus, Timothy Edward Kane as Creon, Kate Collins as Jocasta and Christopher Donahue, are outstanding. John Culbert’s simple sparse set design, Jacqueline Firkin’s costumes and Keith Parham’s lighting design enhance the intense, intimate emotions of the play’s tragic events most effectively. This is especially noteworthy as Oedipus frequently appears in a deep purple robe, contrasting the white-dressed chorus members and Jocasta’s golden costume.
This crisply paced production runs just under 90 minutes without intermission. And while, at times some of the chorus’ mannered dance-like movements, gyrated walking or crawling, with low toned moaning sounds seem a bit hyperbolic, these never really detract from the emotional impact of the main characters’ tragic situations.
“Oedipus Rex” is the first of their planned productions of the Oedipus tragic trilogy. “The Gospel of Colonus will be performed in May and “Antigone” will follow in the fall of 2020.
“Oedipus Rex” runs until December 8 at The Court Theatre at 5535 E. Ellis Avenue in Chicago. For ticket information go online at email@example.com or contact the box office by phone at 773-753-4472.