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Oedipus the King directed and Adapted by Steven Young
Produced by Broken Gears Project Theatre Company, April, 2011 – Dallas, TX

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Reviews

M. Lance Lusk D Magazine
Steven Young directs Oedipus the King, a faithful sounding, yet fresh adaptation of Sophocles’ play about, among other things, the quest for self-knowledge, of free will, ‘Fate,’ and of the tenuous nature of good fortune. Young has crafted a complete and exciting vision that almost, but not quite finds its perfect mark. The look of the play (with sets by Jeffrey Franks) is balanced, symmetrical, and formalized, perhaps to remind us of its classical roots, to what is already an amazing spectacle that’s not just for the classical literature set.

Christopher Soden Dallas Examiner
Instead of treating Sophocles as if he were sacrosanct, director Steven Young has revised and adapted the text, slashing and burning a lot of underbrush that drags down the pace. Yes, literature turns on meticulously withholding and dispensing information. Young does this, without asking us to navigate the prolonged hazard of backstory. By distilling the dialogue, updating the milieu, enhancing our comfort zone and facilitating immediacy, Mr. Young has fashioned a harrowing, disturbing version of Oedipus Rex that will rattle you like a cyclone. Your hair will tingle. Your nerves will fry. When Jocasta mocks the gods you’ll run for cover. In short, Young has restored frantic, jagged power to Oedipus Rex that's been lost in literary aspiration. It’s like the difference between Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Color Purple.

Kris Noteboom Theatre Jones
A fortunate side effect of his inclusion of timeless themes like tempting fate and the search for truth is that this play remains relevant today, despite its arcane story, and is ripe for modern adaptation. Enter director Steven Young, who took the original work and constructed just such an adaptation. Now set in an uncanny world, not our own but not beyond the realm of imagination, Young sets Oedipus in an anachronistic place that features the eponymous ruler in a suit, Creon in traditional military dress, and the prophet confined to a wheelchair. All of this is set askew by Sophocles' classic dialogue and imbues the story with an ethereal noncompliance with time, reinforcing the universality of the story.

All in all, Young's adaptation is straightforward and effective. He clearly has a strong grasp of the dichotomy of vision and blindness so integral to the plot, even featuring an eye covered by a hand as the universal symbol of Thebes. Understanding the importance of the thematic elements, he resists going in an abstract direction and the production is all the better for it.

And as a vessel for the tragedian, Steven Young and Broken Gears Project Theatre carry the torch and light the way for what theater can be in the face of rampant sterilization.
Giving sight to the blind, as it were.

Elaine Liner Dallas Observer
Another company worth supporting is up-and-coming Broken Gears Project Theatre. Their production of Oedipus the King set slightly in the future, stars David Jeremiah in the title role and Lulu Ward as his wife Jocasta.

Written and directed by Steven Young, this 75-minute version uses 10 actors to re-tell the ancient tale of the mythical King of Thebes and the curses that befall his life and nation. Determined to disprove prophecies that he'd murder his father and marry his mother, Oedipus consults oracles and makes proud boasts that he will lead his suffering nation out of plagues and pestilence. Instead, he's brought down by hubris. Fate is fate, after all.

Young's adaptation, pared to the plot essentials, plays out as a mystery set against a backdrop of modern political upheaval (Oedipus' brother-in-law Creon, played by G. David Trosko, is dressed like an officer of the Mubarak regime). As clues are revealed about Oedipus and Jocasta's true identities, the pounding drumbeats of sound designer Alex Krus' soundtrack amp up the tension. When the chorus speaks, video (directed by Beau Banning) shows the king addressing his country as a CNN-like news crawl gives highlights of his speech.

It's all good, gripping drama. Not bad for something written in 467 B.C.

Lawson Taitte Dallas Morning News
Steven Young’s new adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King is premiering at Broken Gears Project Theatre.

This is a strong modern-dress Oedipus, best in the scenes between the title character (David Jeremiah) and his queen, Jocasta (Lulu Ward). Jeremiah takes a rhetorical approach to the language, each syllable crisp and formal. Jeremiah shows us the moment the king begins to doubt himself with great clarity. As he gets more afraid, so do we.

Ward also projects the queen’s royal attitudes forcefully, but with an ironic, contemporary edge. She doesn’t overdo Jocasta’s whistling-in-the-dark dismissal of gods and prophecies, but the moments she oversteps into outright blasphemy resonate. Above all, her parting scene, in which she delicately brushes Oedipus’ face with her fingertips, is heartbreakingly precise.


 

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