“Oedipus Apparatus” Brings Modern Concepts To Ancient Story At WEPG

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Maggie Conroy as Jocasta and Mitch Eagles as Oedipus grasp for each other through the apparatus at WEPG’s production of “Oedipus Apparatus.” Photo: John Lamb

West End Players Guild brings Lucy Cashion’s brilliant and well directed (by Cashion as well) script to stage in “Oedipus Apparatus.” Combining the traditional Oedipus story with geometric and analytical thinking and a massive “apparatus” that fulfills the stop/time narrative aspect of the ancient legend, it adds up to a fascinating evening of riveting theatre that even includes a visit to “The View.”

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Ellie Schwetye as the Sphinx and Alicen Moser as Antigone converse in “Oedipus Apparatus” at West End Players Guild. Photo: John Lamb

According to the prophecy, Oedipus was destined to kill his father and marry his mother- a theme that Sigmund Freud had a field day with (even in this production). His father, King Laius, abandoned him on a mountainside hoping he would not survive and thus not fulfill the prophecy. But those ancient Gods, along with the oracle at Delphi, had other plans and Oedipus was rescued and raised in Corinth. When he returned to Thebes, his destiny was carried out. Along the way, however, he encounters alternative narratives to his fate that all lead to the same conclusion.

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Oedipus (Mitch Eagles) gets schooled by Tiresius (Carl Overly, Jr.) in the WEPG production of “Oedipus Apparatus.” Photo: John Lamb

Mitch Eagles is a bombastic Oedipus determined to carve his own fate despite everything that leads him to his ultimate destination. Every encounter is serious as he pushes on with the help of a “time machine” apparatus that successfully stops the action and rewinds in an attempt to readjust the story. As his mother/wife, Jocasta, Maggie Conroy is impeccable as she broods over her own fate. With the help of modern technology- microphones and video in particular- she manages to deliver her message. Cara Barresi as Artemis is equally morose as her counterpart in delivering dreary epithets throughout the performance.

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Will Bonfiglio as Creon and Mitch Eagles as Oedipus in the WEPG production of “Oedipus Apparatus.” Photo: John Lamb

Will Bonfiglio packs a punch as Creon, brother to Jocasta. He delivers bad news on top of worse news to Oedipus throughout the series of stops and starts provided by the apparatus. Alicen Moser is the morose Antigone while Rachel Tibbets portrays a semi-comotose Athena who has a few issues of her own as one of the oracles. Ellie Schwetye is properly saucy as the Sphinx who allows Oedipus to enter Thebes once he has cracked the riddle she has put forth. Carl Overly, Jr. is a powerful Tiresius as he goes toe-to-toe with Oedipus.

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Jocasta (Maggie Conroy) holds Antigone (Alicen Moser) in “Oedipus Apparatus” at West End Players Guild. Photo: John Lamb

Rounding out the cast are Michael Cassidy Flynn as Dr. Freud and Joe Taylor as Apollo, who also plays piano throughout. They become part of the “talk show” format where a distant voice proclaims she’s always wanted to do a show with oracles of different ages and various viewpoints. This also is televised throughout the performance. Not only do we have these obvious intrusions on the classic myth, but the monstrous amalgamation of pipes and spokes dominates the scene as a series of designers takes over the elongated space of the WEPG playing area and takes the stage as the set for “The View” and the opposite end as, predominately, Jocasta’s bedroom. Those designers include Kristin Cassidy, Lucy Cashion, Joe Taylor, Jacob Francois and Ben Lewis. The Meredith LaBounty costumes are a great mix of ancient and modern styles.

Playwright/director Lucy Cashion has fashioned a wonderful post-modern production of the Oedipus myth and thrown in a series of theorems from Pythagorus and a lot of left brain talk of the radius of this and the dissecting lines of that which tend to blend an unexpected spin to the classic myth. I’m not sure if any further viewings on my part would even begin to comprehend this odd yet satisfying mix of cultures unless it’s just to show constants like mathematics and the powers of destiny. She has, however, managed to bring a brilliant production to the forefront and, despite the length of the one-act (an hour and fifty minutes) the crashing sound and the often furious pace of the apparatus startles you into an unusual fear and trepidation of Oedipus.

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Sharing their “View,” the oracle at Delphi pontificate to Creon during “Oedipus Apparatus” at WEPG. Photo: John Lamb

“Oedipus Apparatus” plays at West End Players Guild through April 30th. Give them a call at 314-667-5686 for tickets or more information.

 

 

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