By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Another small company worth supporting is up-and-coming Broken Gears Project Theatre, which has crafted a sweet little 30-seat acting space amid a warren of rooms in an Oak Lawn house. 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 Stephen 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.
Jeremiah, a young actor who excels at tightly wound roles, rushes some of the dialogue's classical poetry, but by the end of the play he's better. Spidering his way along the back wall, having gouged his eyes in shame, his Oedipus changes from smug urban general into something frightened and feral.
Ward makes a fine Jocasta, a scheming first lady driven to suicide. Joel Frapart, dressed in beggar's rags as the blind seer Tiresias, rumbles onto the nearly bare stage in a wheelchair and stiffens into a seizure before telling Oedipus what his future holds. It's all good, gripping drama. Not bad for something written in 467 B.C.