Oedipus was a mythical Greek King of Thebes, who, according to Sophocles, killed his father and married his mother. This strange but typical ancient Greek myth became known worldwide, especially when Sigmund Freud decided to name his theory of the psychodynamics that binds a young boy to his mother after the hero in the Oedipal complex.
For lovers of Greek tragedy, Oedipus brings to everyone’s mind actors with ancient Greek sandals and robes on, acting in some Greek theatre. But when directors try to present Oedipus to the American public, the story becomes somehow more complicated.
Oedipus el Rey is a modern and sexy take on the classic. Luis Alfaro presents on stage the life of a South Central LA gangland. According to Chicago Tribune, Alfaro “takes what dramatic theorists would call an early point of attack on the Oedipus myth.”
Oedipus is not in some Greek city anymore but in prison, where his fellow inmates tell each other stories while Tiresias, a surrogate father who warns him about going to South Central Los Angeles, suggests, once released, that he head to the safety of the desert instead to work.
But Oedipus does not care for a job and thus, heads to LA and bashes the gangland boss Laius after a dispute on the street.
By condemning the gangs’ violence, Alfaro’s Tiresias says to young Oedipus that “a father is not made of blood but of breath- from blowing into your lungs the ideas of life, and gasping in fear at what you’ll do with them.”
Oedipus el Rey will be at the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago until July 29, 2012. Performance lasts 95 minutes and tickets cost $20-$50.