REVIEW: Tree of Oedipus hits the stage for CSU

By Ashley Mott
Arts and Entertainment Editor

The trills of an accordion leaked from the back of the room over the rows of the audience, who were waiting in anticipation for the story to begin. With a gentle reminder that photos and videos were not allowed during the show, the story started to begin.

Out crawled a multitude of creatures, covered with dark makeup, wild hair and voices like the Oracle of Delphi herself. They began to dance around the stage in large swinging movements, telling the story of how the earth was born and of the first man, Cadmus, who was all alone in the beginning.

With each passing moment, their cries got louder and the story evolved to that of the cursed one, Oedipus. The man whom a prophecy said would slay his father by his own hand and lay in bed with his mother as his wife, the man who would bring plague and famine to Thebes.

The actors worked their way through the story with an intense vibe that could have only come from those as talented as they were. Actress Madelyn Voltz portrayed Antigone, in all her mohawked glory, as a woman who would not be scorned and would defy all laws of man to follow the laws of the gods.

Her performance was only rivaled by that of Anthony Brown, who was cast as Oedipus. His portrayal of a shaken king, upon finding out that he had slept with his mother and bore four children, was as beautiful as it was horrific.

The faces of the audience showed a cringing feeling at the thought of his now insestuous family tree, yet showed they were in awe of Brown’s performance.

The entire show was a melding of Greek tragedies and a steampunk world that all of the cast successfully pulled off. Their interactions with the audience were an integral part of making the show as successful as it was.

Climbing into the seating areas, shaking and kissing the hands of those in the rows above them, scaling the rafters and dropping down in front of people, it made it an interactive show for the ages.

Mid-way through, actor Jordan Ficyk, who played Cadmus, Tiresias and Voskos, called for people to hand over slips of paper with something they hate about living with mankind.

Echos of “a man telling a woman what she can and can’t do with her body,” “the electoral college” and “racial oppression” rang throughout the room.

“Biting into a chocolate chip cookie only to realize it is oatmeal raisin,” Ficyk shouted, eliciting an audible groan from audience members everywhere.

The show continued on in a flurry of lights and an array of sounds, following the life of Antigone and her siblings as they face the aftermath of a world without their father Oedipus.

Plagued with death and heartbreak, Polynices and Eteocles, played by Eric Wloszek and Sullivan C. Ratcliff respectively, went to war over the crown of Thebes.

Ultimately, they fell at the hands of each other, with swords driven into their underbellies, they lay slain on the barren wastelands at the front gates of Thebes.

Soon a decree came, from the newly risen king Creon, that only one of the brothers would be buried as a hero and the other to be left on the waste land to be eaten by all things that creep and crawl.

Overcome with angst, Antigone vowed to give her fallen brother the burial rights he deserved even if it meant the possibility of her own death.

Betrayed by her sister, she went on with her plan alone as her only living family member cast her aside and called her crazy. However, she never feared, and when placed before Creon for her deeds, she refused to bow to the will of man, claiming that only the gods can make laws such as those pertaining to the dead.

Antigone was forced into a cave at the edge of town, torn from her home and left to die.

Creon, sure this was the right decision, basked in his choice until he was paid a visit to the blind prophet Tiresias. Warned by the prophet of Apollo that his choices did not appease the gods, and in fact angered them in highest way, he set off on a path to correct the choices.

He ordered burial rights for the brother that was said to never be buried, and he sent soldiers to get Antigone from the cave before she breathed her last breath.

Alas, only one of those things was accomplished, as upon entering the cave, Antigone was found dead. Upon seeing her dead, Haemon, son of Creon and fiance of Antigone, drove the blade of his sword into his ribs and lay with her in his dying arms.

Overcome with grief at all the blood shed, Jocasta, wife of Creon, played by actress Alyssa Jacobs, also killed herself amidst the pain she was feeling. Alone and abandoned, Creon wandered the world. His death brought freedom to the people of Thebes. Without a ruler, the city flourished, bringing an end to the story being told.

The show was ended with a standing ovation as audience members all around rose to their feet and cheered. While not your typical Greek tragedy, this steampunk take on a story of so many facets was just what was needed to bring the old tale back to life.

The Cleveland State University theatre department produced a show that could only be described as well executed and one for the ages.

Originally Published on The Cauldron.

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