We all know the story—or so we think—of a young man who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother. Sophocles' monumental treatment of this theme has been a staple of world theater for more than 2,000 years. In this bold and provocative re-telling of the myth, Goodman Artistic Associate and Tony Award winning director and adaptor Frank Galati reimagines Sophocles’ tragedy, fusing it with the words and ideas of Sigmund Freud—the man whose revolutionary theories crossed the boundaries of science by using the art of myth, metaphor and dream to bring meaning to the ultimate human drama.
"...So, at the Goodman Theatre, why is this recast and retooled piece, which employs 21 actors, not entirely satisfying? It’s a matter of problematic execution. Strangely, the worlds of Freud and Oedipus are both insufficiently interconnected and insufficiently distinct."
- Chris Jones
Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended
"...Intellectually and emotionally provocative, and altogether riveting in its black-on-black, midnight-of-the-soul visual design (applause for designers James Schuette and Michael Chybowski), the show conjures the most ancient myth of twisted desire and guilt by way of Sophocles' Greek tragedy "Oedipus Rex," in which a man is fated to murder his father and marry his mother."
"...Bold, provocative and striking, the play - which incorporates excerpts from Freud's writings - begins in a Vienna lecture hall (James Schuette's handsome, black-and-white set) with a crowd of students listening as Dr. Freud (the self-contained Nick Sandys), explains his Oedipal theory. The picture of the detached scientist, Sandys impresses most when he lets the mask slip."
"...Ben Viccellio delivers a moving and sympathetic portrayal of Oedipus; Roderick Peeples is perfect as Oedipus's brother-in-law Kreon; Jeffrey Baumgartner is superb as the prophet Teiresias, and Susan Hart breaks your heart as Jocasta, the wife and mother of Oedipus."
"...The power of Oedipus Complex lies in its storytelling: in recounting the events that expose Oedipus' secret sin, often in extended passages of richly textured choral speaking, the actors deliver the rhythmically charged text with thrilling urgency. James Schuette's sleek set- black risers on a checkerboard stage- creates a somber dreamscape for the haunting tale."
- Albert Williams
Windy City Times - Highly Recommended
"...Nick Sandys, however, paints us a portrait of Freud steeped in vulnerability, his German accent muted as he proffers comfort to the intrepid Theban monarch, endowed with dignity and compassion by Ben Viccellio. The supporting players—whose ranks encompass a veritable who’s who of off-Loop talent—deliver performances varying from Roderick Peeples’ raisonné Kreon to Jeffrey Baumgartner’s fevered Teiresias. But the star of the show is vocal coach Linda Gates, whose instruction shapes the individual voices of the chorus into a single vox populi bearing witness to occurances both brutal and benevolent, but no less truthful now as in ages past."
"...Galati expects Freud’s comparatively dry commentary to somehow intensify “Oedipus Rex.” But this whole is lesser than its parts: Ironically, Freud’s clinical counterpoint and Sophocles’ combustible tragedy work to neutralize each other. What one heats up the other dries out."
"...So, is this good theatre? From a technical and conceptual point of view, it is magnificent. From an emotionally evocative point of view, it works on an intellectual level but proves lifeless in terms of achieving an emotional relationship between the characters and the audience. For me this is not completely theatrically successful. As Teiresias states, “Wisdom is a curse when wisdom does nothing for the man who possess it.” Nonetheless, “Oedipus Complex” is dazzling and warrants praise as well as viewing."
- Venus Zarris
EpochTimes - Recommended
"...This is the story that unravels in this wonderful imaginative look at how this would be new and much more understandable. As always, in writing and in direction, Galati never misses a beat and makes sure that every detail is perfection. James Schuette's sets are sharp and move quickly from scene to scene so we never miss a beat in the story. Todd Barton's sound and music are nicely done as are the lighting effects by Michael Chybowski and Christina Ernst's choreography is very smooth."
- Al Bresloff
Time Out Chicago - Recommended
"...Once it gets there, though, this virile, gorgeous production delivers the goods. We can’t remember the last time the Goodman had a set as handsome as James Schuette’s Edwardian symphony in black lacquer. But it’s ironic that the insertion of contemporary commentary in a classic text turns out to be the real Freudian slip."
"...Oedipus Complex is captivating seminal tale filled with a nice mixture of sexual, psychological and dramatic power that unfolds as a fresh perspective on the Oedipus Rex myth. Frank Galati’s work here is an awesome theatrical experience."
"...This Chicago premiere, now in the Goodman’s Albert Theatre, is almost too reverent to be theatrically interesting, too blasé and unimaginative in its craft and execution to be more than moderately meaningful. It may be most helpful to those with limited knowledge of the Greek classic "Oedipus Rex," on which it largely replays within a late 19th/early 20th Century Freudian framework. It’s not that there’s anything terribly wrong with Galati’s faithful adaptation or the present Goodman production, just that neither reaches for the kinds of dramatic empathy that would truly make us care or want to revisit the familiar tale anew."
- Joe Stead
This show has been Jeff Recommended*
*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.