SMC takes on a new adaption of Oedipus

The story of Oedipus incorporating the dialogue of Hamlet was beautifully enacted by the Santa Monica College Theater Arts Department and every ticket was sold over thirty minutes prior to the 8 o'clock opening show Friday, April 8th. Dr. Adrianne Harrop wrote, choreographed, and directed the performance art event in a fastidious retelling of the legendary tragedy of Oedipus. Oedipus is a tale of striking irony originally conceptualized by the Greek playwright Sophocles in 429 B.C. The title character looks high and low for the man who slayed the former king of his homeland, King Laius. To Oedipus' horror, he discovers that he himself is the culprit. To make matters worse, his current wife, Queen Jocasta, King Laius's widow, is his very own mother.

Both Hamlet and Oedipus are tragedies incorporating similar themes. They share the mother son dynamic torn apart by a horrific realization that surpasses the tolerance of man. When conjoined, the exquisite language of Hamlet brings a new life to the story of Oedipus.

The story is recounted from the viewpoint of Queen Jocasta, played passionately by Amanda Korkunis. Her delivery of the oration assisted by her singing ability was both dramatic and effective. A powerful ensemble of actors performed the role of the Greek chorus who assisted the narration which kept the audience's attention through both dance and a melodic oration of carefully selected lines from the Shakespeare' masterpiece Hamlet.

In addition to the dazzling portrayal of Jocasta by Korkunis, Carlos Padilla matched her fervor in a convincing rendition of Oedipus.  His facial expressions and vocal tone flawlessly illustrated the emotion of a man's world turned upside down. The chemistry between this couple was intense and could be felt palpably throughout the theater.

Carlos Rivera played a key chorus member as well as Jocasta's brother King Creon. While in the chorus, Rivera provided a grace to his movements that showed his striking ability in the art of dance. Although his aptitude in dance and movement were notable, he was only fair in his role as King Creon. The lines seemed somewhat rushed and did not match the intense emotion of the play.

Another member of the ensemble, Tetsuo C. Kang, did an adequate job as a chorus member but was exceptional as the Messenger who provided the punchline to the story, that Oedipus was married to his own mother. His look of eerie satisfaction showed a sick delight in being the bearer of such wicked news. Kang's cameo was a climatic moment of the production in which his character and the chorus all broke out into maniacal laughter.

Another member of the chorus, Shayan Pourkaed, also played Tiresias, the blind sear. Every time Pourkaed entered the theater he wielded such emotion and acting talent it seemed at times as if he was the main character. Each line Pourkaed delivered was presented with a remarkable strength and awe-inspiring emotion. His charismatic rendition was a highlight of the show and he stood out among the actors for his unique presence and mind-blowing articulation.

The direction and choreography by SMC Theater Arts faculty member Dr. Adrianne Harrop was beyond sensational. She also wrote the stunning script and selected particularly memorable lines from Shakespeare to depict this timeless story. Harrop also provided the selection of music, which contributed to the tight production and overall intensity of the play.

The lighting, well executed by Ian Mitchell, was captivating and assisted the expression of emotion in the play as well as cueing scene changes. Samantha Wright oversaw the costuming, which was sufficient in its representation of the ancient characters. Alycia Perez was flawless as stage manager and gave little to critique.

Despite the fact that this is not a contemporary play, it still moved the modern audience. Oedipus is as relevant today as it was in ancient times when originally conceived of by Sophocles. Harrop gave it an added intensity in her meticulous combination of Shakespeare's voice with this immortal myth of taboo love.