Oedi Brings Spring Spirit to the Steps of the Addison

Enjoying the warm weather this past Sunday, students lounged on the grass, and the theater workshop Oedi graced the steps of the Addison as frisbees flew across the adjacent Great Lawn. A 30-minute farce of Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus Rex, this hilariously scripted show, adorned with its variety of sarcastic quips and sharp humor, was a refreshing compliment to the ambience of the weekend. Oedi is based upon the infamous story of Oedipus. The background knowledge of this timeless tale is needed to enjoy fully the satiric angle of this theater classroom. In short, Oedipus, during a war, kills the king of Thebes, takes over his kingdom, and marries the queen, only to discover later that this king was his father and that his new wife is his mother. The Town Crier, played by Kendra Allenby ’05, opens the play by introducing us to the story at the moment when King Oedipus of Thebes, played by Chris Zegel ’05, finds out the wretched news of the former ruler’s identity. Although one might not expect this solemn scene to open a light-hearted show, comedy is omnipresent throughout this moment. As Oedipus attempts to confront his actions, two of his friends, played by Matt Brennan ’05 and Ben Bloom ’04, add comic relief to his struggle. The humor only escalates as the show progresses. When Oedipus’s mother, played by Ilana Segall ’04, hears of his terrible situation, she is anything but surprised. Neither disgusted nor regretful, she reveals that she had prior knowledge of this information, but she “didn’t think it was a big deal.” Her attitude towards the situation serves only to distress Oedi more. In a fit of confusion and remorse, the protagonist threatens his wife-cum-parent with divorce and attempts to injure himself, but instead decides upon a more practical conclusion. He will make a public apology for murdering his father, but will refuse to deny his love for his wife. It wasn’t only the outlandish script that made this show worth watching; the actors’ comic timing also enlivened up the story. Allenby provided a delightful opening to the show, catching the audience’s attention with her powerful voice and infectious smile. Continually interrupting the show thereafter with quick anecdotes and cue cards that involved the audience in certain scenes, Allenby was generous on stage and off, commanding the spotlight during her lines, yet giving her attention to others upon their “turn” in the limelight. In addition to Allenby, the interactions between Zegel and Segall, who played Oedipus and his wife, added humor to the scenario of the play. The two were hilarious in their exchanges, making the audience laugh at every moment. Though tripping over a few lines, both were obviously comfortable on stage and with their roles, which made them a pleasure to watch. Brennan and Bloom, who rounded out this cast, played Oedi’s two sympathetic friends. While Brennan performed well as Oedi’s practical advisor, Bloom stole the show as the sharp-tongued, sarcastic blind man. Bloom’s careful delivery of each line made his performance enchanting. With wonderful comedic timing, Bloom transformed his supporting character into a main player within the show. Director Abby Seldin ’05 added her own interpretive touch to Oedi. Placing the play on the steps of Sam Phil (until the location was changed to the Addison), Seldin added a new dimension and her own originality to the show. Seldin had nothing but praise for the cast and the overall experience. Said Seldin, “Well, I’ve learned to tie togas better.” Cast members responded enthusiastically to Seldin’s direction. “Abby [Seldin] has been awesome,” remarked Allenby; “She’s amazing and we all had so much fun.” Deemed “cute” and “hilarious” by audience member Anthony Reyes ’05, Oedi was, in a word, delightful. The script was amusing, the actors captivating, and the direction interesting. This theater classroom gave a new meaning to the cliché “short and sweet,” as it entertained the audience on a sunny Sunday afternoon.