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June 24, 2014:

The Curse of Oedipus reviewed by Rob Stevens

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The gods on Mount Olympus are playing with the humans again in The Curse of Oedipus, being given a sterling production by The Antaeus Company. As is their practice, Antaeus has two different companies of players and the one reviewed is the Corinth cast. Apollo (Barry Creyton) was the god of light and the sun as well as prophecy and plague. Greeks would visit his shrine at Delphi, listen to the riddles of the oracle and attempt to fulfill or forestall the prophecies. Apollo’s half-brother Dionysus (Stoney Westmoreland), his mother was human, was the god of the grape harvest as well as wine and ritual madness. As he proudly boasts at one point, he brought ecstasy to Greece. These two watch as Oedipus and his family struggle with curse upon curse, prophecy after prophecy. This family really puts the tragedy into Greek tragedy.

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Oedipus (Terrell Tilford), who is on a quest, arrives in Thebes just as four young children are about to be sacrificed to the Sphinx because no one has solved the creature’s riddle. Oedipus solves it, becomes a hero and because of the recent slaughter of the king, is given the crown as well as the widowed queen, Jocasta (Eve Gordon). After many years of wedded bliss and four children, the riddle that is Oedipus is revealed. He fled his homeland because it was foretold he would kill his father and bed his mother. As most people know, Oedipus ended up doing just that anyway. Years later, when banished by his sons who now rule in his place he curses them. The cycle of Greek tragedy continues as brother turns against brother.

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Casey Stangl has expertly directed her large cast and the result is a riveting piece of theatre. Kenneth Cavander’s adaptation into the modern vernacular at times elicits ill-timed laughs. But he has managed to make a story containing child sacrifice, fratricide, kidnapping, self-mutilation and political power plays into a fascinating edge-of-your-seat tale. The cast is uniformly fine with Tony Amendola doing a stalwart job as the conniving villain Creon. Gordon is also powerful in her few scenes. The drummer, Geno Monteiro, is an essential part of the action. The sound design by Jeff Gardner is amazing throughout and adds a Sensurround feel to the climatic earthquake. Don’t be blind like Oedipus, use all your senses to experience this production.

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The Antaeus Company, 5112 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. Ends Aug. 10. 818-506-1983 or www.antaeus.org

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