“Jocasta” … More a Pity than a Tragedy

By Ernest Kearney  —  Jocasta has certainly been a subject for the ambitious revisionist of late.

I’m aware of at least three novels and two plays which have tried to refit her tragic tale into the modern sensibilities of a feminist framing.

This is somewhat understandable.   In the Greek myth, Jocasta was made to pay for the sins of the child raping Laius and the hotheaded Oedipus when her only fault was in falling in love with a guy young enough to be her son.


In Jocasta A Motherf**king Tragedy, Brian Weir and the Ghost Road Theatre Company have taken Sophocles’ classic tale of Oedipus and window-dressed it for the “#metoo” movement.


Unfortunately they have taken away the classical Greek costume of the high-heeled cothurni and the silk chitons, for the garb of a cheerleader.


With fifteen “writers” developing this show, the product is pretty much what should be expected; an effort brimming with original ideas and intriguing concepts full of “sound and fury” but lacking any focus.


To their credit, the GRTC go into the full myth here, Laius’s kidnapping and rape of Chrysippus, son of the King of Elis, for which the Gods punished Laius by the curse that he would be murdered by his own son who would then marry his widow.


Why two innocents had to be involved in this divine chastisement is not explained in the ancient texts, but violating the sacred laws of hospitality was a major no-no.


The GRTC also have the right idea, wherein the struggle is not over the guilt of our sins, but the responsibility for our actions.


Hillel the elder wrote,

“It is a sin to step on another’s face, but it is also a sin to let another step on your face.”


Here our Jocasta (Jen Kays) is closer in temperament to the vacillating Hamlet, aware of the crime but unsure how to handle the guilt.   Her “sins,” as Jocasta sees them, is to have lousy luck with her first husband and to be in love for the very first time in her life.


Struggling with the question of her guilt, Jocasta seeks out the counsel and advice of other notable women victimized throughout classical literature; Cassandra (Kimberly Glann) Troy’s ignored prophetess, Medea (Christine Breihan) the multi-filicidal wife of Jason, and the Sphinx (Katherine Noon) who has traded in her wings here for a four-caster IV pole.


Also represented on stage are the cause of the holy “what-for” Chrys (Adam Dlugolecki), a Speedo-clad youth constantly found swimming as if in an effort to be cleansed of his shame and the scourge of the Gods’ himself Oedipus (Max Faugno).


Jocasta shares much common ground with Steven Berkoff’s breakthrough play Greek, in its joyful vulgarity and blatant rejection of moral standards.  A lot of people have poured their talents into this show unfortunately for very little purpose.


Whatever this production has going for it—and it is not without merit—the failure is in the payoff.

The performances sway between flabby and flat.  Dlugolecki and Glann have a few nice moments – emphasis on few.


Weir has some clever staging but has applied the whip-hand to neither his staging or cast.  Greek drama is fueled by emotions.  Here the furies occasionally pop up more peeved than furious.  A director can veil a play’s many flaws by the application of a rigorous pacing.  A lesson Weir should take to heart.


There is an edge to Jocasta A Motherf**king Tragedy, but that edge hasn’t met the whetstone.


♦     ♦     ♦

Jocasta A Motherf**king Tragedy



The Broadwater Mainstage

1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038

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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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