4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Unfolding fatality

SD Rep presents marvelous, tragic version of Oedipus El Rey

 Leandro Cano, Spencer Smith, Lakin Valdez in Oedipus El Rey at San Diego REP - Image by Daren Scott
Leandro Cano, Spencer Smith, Lakin Valdez in Oedipus El Rey at San Diego REP

Oedipus el Rey

A young man and an older woman, both naked, make tender love in silk sheets amid a roseate aura. They haven’t known each other long, but found common goals and dreams. A blazing sense they are meant for each other, like filling each other’s empty spaces, incites their passion.

Her name is Jocasta. His is Oedipus. Though neither knows, she is his mother.

They had no choice. The Gods decided their fate long before (people are “already history when they just start living”). But, Luis Alfaro asks in his contemporary version of Sophocles’ great tragedy, Oedipus the King, are people fated from birth?

Is it possible, a character asks, to break the old cycle and create a new story? Oedipus El Rey also asks: are countless young men from the barrio destined to spend their lives in prison? Is that their only possible “story”?

Young Oedipus Gomez doesn’t think so. Imprisoned for stealing from Costco, taught by his “father,” the blind Tiresias, who had himself incarcerated to be with his son, Oedipus has faith only in himself. “God’s ego’s too big,” he says committing the ultimate act of hubris. “I can do better than Him.”

Lakin Valdez, Mónica Sánchez in Oedipus El Rey at San Diego REP

In a variation of Man of La Mancha, Gomez and his fellow prisoners re-enact the story of Oedipus in contemporary terms. “El Rey” Laius is a powerful, South Central drug king losing turf to the “Salvadorians.” Fresh out of prison, Oedipus kills him in a fit of road rage. Not knowing that Laius is his real father, Oedipus sets off the dominos of destiny.

Sophocles’ version begins in the eleventh hour. Oedipus stands center-stage and one messenger after another brings the worst news imaginable, until the next one arrives.

Alfaro’s modern adaptation unfolds like a prologue to the original: Oedipus is born unwanted by his father; Laius scars the infant’s feet and orders him killed (Oedipus means “swollen feet”); Oedipus slays his father; he meets Jocasta and falls in love; he becomes a power-chomping, Scarface-like el mero, “the one”; then learns the truth.

Or is it? Jocasta’s brother, Creon, says the Old School had a different way to murder someone: kill the name. Start with gossip, turn it into rumor, repeat until it becomes the Official Story. In effect, make happenstance look like fate.

For the San Diego Rep, Yoon Bae’s terrific set combines eras 2500 years apart. A large marble circle could be a rest area at a mall or prison-yard, and/or an Athenian mini-amphitheater. Lonnie Alcaraz’s shafts of light could be sunbeams or iron bars. Jennifer Brawn Gittings’ costumes include gangsta fare — chinos, top-buttoned plaid shirts — and suggestions of ancient Greece.

The production has the formal elegance of ritual. The staging by Sam Woodhouse, with pulsing chants and drums, and Alfaro’s sonorous language, is both locked-in stately and — as when three vatos play the Sphinx with garish masks and Vegas-lit eyes — surprisingly funny.

Lakin Valdez is an extraordinary Oedipus. His slow rise and Icarus-like fall are unforgettable. As is Monica Sanchez’s Jocasta. Sophocles concentrated on Oedipus. Alfaro gives Jocasta an amazing arc: a miserable human being sparked with joy and extinguished by the unthinkable.

Jorge Rodriguez makes el mero wannabe Creon a serio-comical gem, as brutal as he is confused. Leandro Cano’s booming Laius and Matt Orduna’s Tiresias bookend the stage like good and evil angels. Dave Rivas and Spencer Smith provide useful support.

These days, “classic” tragedies often lack the full tug. There’s a distance in the translation: we watch with our minds as much as our hearts. The best part of the San Diego Rep’s production: it feels like a genuine tragedy. Each step of the way, one is tempted to shout “No!” or “Don’t go there!” to resist, out loud, the unfolding fatality.

But is it? What if Creon was right? Are we watching yet another re-telling of the Official Story? The one that asserts there is no way out?

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

How the lockdown has changed National City crime

Mask snitches, domestic violence, mental health calls up
Next Article

SDG&E line man fired for white power sign

Even though accuser retracted charge
 Leandro Cano, Spencer Smith, Lakin Valdez in Oedipus El Rey at San Diego REP - Image by Daren Scott
Leandro Cano, Spencer Smith, Lakin Valdez in Oedipus El Rey at San Diego REP

Oedipus el Rey

A young man and an older woman, both naked, make tender love in silk sheets amid a roseate aura. They haven’t known each other long, but found common goals and dreams. A blazing sense they are meant for each other, like filling each other’s empty spaces, incites their passion.

Her name is Jocasta. His is Oedipus. Though neither knows, she is his mother.

They had no choice. The Gods decided their fate long before (people are “already history when they just start living”). But, Luis Alfaro asks in his contemporary version of Sophocles’ great tragedy, Oedipus the King, are people fated from birth?

Is it possible, a character asks, to break the old cycle and create a new story? Oedipus El Rey also asks: are countless young men from the barrio destined to spend their lives in prison? Is that their only possible “story”?

Young Oedipus Gomez doesn’t think so. Imprisoned for stealing from Costco, taught by his “father,” the blind Tiresias, who had himself incarcerated to be with his son, Oedipus has faith only in himself. “God’s ego’s too big,” he says committing the ultimate act of hubris. “I can do better than Him.”

Lakin Valdez, Mónica Sánchez in Oedipus El Rey at San Diego REP

In a variation of Man of La Mancha, Gomez and his fellow prisoners re-enact the story of Oedipus in contemporary terms. “El Rey” Laius is a powerful, South Central drug king losing turf to the “Salvadorians.” Fresh out of prison, Oedipus kills him in a fit of road rage. Not knowing that Laius is his real father, Oedipus sets off the dominos of destiny.

Sophocles’ version begins in the eleventh hour. Oedipus stands center-stage and one messenger after another brings the worst news imaginable, until the next one arrives.

Alfaro’s modern adaptation unfolds like a prologue to the original: Oedipus is born unwanted by his father; Laius scars the infant’s feet and orders him killed (Oedipus means “swollen feet”); Oedipus slays his father; he meets Jocasta and falls in love; he becomes a power-chomping, Scarface-like el mero, “the one”; then learns the truth.

Or is it? Jocasta’s brother, Creon, says the Old School had a different way to murder someone: kill the name. Start with gossip, turn it into rumor, repeat until it becomes the Official Story. In effect, make happenstance look like fate.

For the San Diego Rep, Yoon Bae’s terrific set combines eras 2500 years apart. A large marble circle could be a rest area at a mall or prison-yard, and/or an Athenian mini-amphitheater. Lonnie Alcaraz’s shafts of light could be sunbeams or iron bars. Jennifer Brawn Gittings’ costumes include gangsta fare — chinos, top-buttoned plaid shirts — and suggestions of ancient Greece.

The production has the formal elegance of ritual. The staging by Sam Woodhouse, with pulsing chants and drums, and Alfaro’s sonorous language, is both locked-in stately and — as when three vatos play the Sphinx with garish masks and Vegas-lit eyes — surprisingly funny.

Lakin Valdez is an extraordinary Oedipus. His slow rise and Icarus-like fall are unforgettable. As is Monica Sanchez’s Jocasta. Sophocles concentrated on Oedipus. Alfaro gives Jocasta an amazing arc: a miserable human being sparked with joy and extinguished by the unthinkable.

Jorge Rodriguez makes el mero wannabe Creon a serio-comical gem, as brutal as he is confused. Leandro Cano’s booming Laius and Matt Orduna’s Tiresias bookend the stage like good and evil angels. Dave Rivas and Spencer Smith provide useful support.

These days, “classic” tragedies often lack the full tug. There’s a distance in the translation: we watch with our minds as much as our hearts. The best part of the San Diego Rep’s production: it feels like a genuine tragedy. Each step of the way, one is tempted to shout “No!” or “Don’t go there!” to resist, out loud, the unfolding fatality.

But is it? What if Creon was right? Are we watching yet another re-telling of the Official Story? The one that asserts there is no way out?

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Less Mexico, more San Diego please

No sympathy for Trump fans
Next Article

Steve Peace's version of the French Laundry scandal

We get to pay Sheppard Mullin $200,000 for lobbying us
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close