I Went to the Theater and Left With Blood On My Pants

My sister and I are standing in line at the bar just outside the theater when across the room a pay phone rang. I remember whispering something to her like, "You go answer it." Of course, she refuses. Because she's a spoilsport and because we are almost at the front of the line to buy a glass of $9 wine.

We find a spot on a white backless couch where she drinks her wine and I people watch. Look at that cute old man holding his wife's hand. Wait are we the only people in here under 50? This show's supposed to be crazy. No those boys look our age. Look, there's Olympia Dukakis. No, seriously that's actually her. You know, from Moonstruck. Yes, the movie with Nic Cage and Cher. Look, that old woman is going to pick up the pay phone.

I would call the space we are in a theater lobby, except that it isn't. The lobby of the Wyly Theater is on the bottom floor; we wait to enter the Studio Theatre on the sixth floor in the "Patron Lounge," which for Oedipus el Rey is clearly meant to feel like a Los Angeles nightclub. An actor appears on the back of the risers and yells, "Form a single file line. If you are at the front of the line, you will be shown to high-risk seating."

See also: Hot Cast, Stunning Visuals in Dallas Theater Center's Modern Myth, Oedipus el Rey

In a weird shuffle dance, our blue-haired companions shove the whippersnappers (that's us) to the front of the line. The usher told us that "high-risk seating" means we might end up with stage blood on our clothes and we will be very close to naked people. Sister chugs the rest of her wine.


The whole play is a fury of sweaty bodies, sex and blood. Each actor is marked in tattoos, murderous teardrops on faces and angelic wings on the only female's back. Playwright Luis Alfaro weaves the tragic Greek story (yes, you should know it) into Los Angeles gangland and prison culture. I'm so close to the actors, I can feel their anger, their sweat flicks off their skin onto me. If I reach out my foot, I could kick the actors while they are having sex. Obviously, I would never do that because that would be rude. Never kick anybody when they're having sex. Even if it's just stage sex.

If you want to read a full review of the play and not just me rambling about booze and sex, that's why we have Elaine Liner. Her sparkling criticism can be found here.

In the climatic scene when Oedipus realizes exactly what he's done and whom he's slept with (if you don't know the story, think Oldboy. If you don't know Oldboy, you're probably less disturbed than I am), he asks her to gouge out his eyes. Two sickening pops and then huge spurts of blood that manage to land on only one audience member: me.

And just like that the show is over and the stage blood on my pants begins to dry into a red goop. It's easy to rub off my pants with a wet paper towel. Then I see a little spot on my shoe. I rub that off.

My sister finds me with my boot in the bathroom sink of the lobby and says, "Geez that was intense." She points to another bloody spot on my purse. "I'll get that out later," I say. "Want a glass of wine?"

Get blood on your pants at Dallas Theater Center's Oedipus el Rey through March 2.

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Lauren Smart
Contact: Lauren Smart