East Coast Artists Offer Four Ways of Looking at Sophocles' Yokasta

(from left): Jennifer Lim, Sarah Kozinn, Daphne Gaines, Rachel Bowditch, and Phyllis Johnson
photo: Ryan Jensen
(from left): Jennifer Lim, Sarah Kozinn, Daphne Gaines, Rachel Bowditch, and Phyllis Johnson

YokastaS Redux seeks to redress a grievance leveled directly by its main character: that compared to other maternal figures in Greek tragedy (Medea, Phaedra, Clytemnestra), Yocasta, mother of Oedipus, receives pitifully scant attention. But what Richard Schechner and collaborator Saviana Stanescu offer is less a studied consideration of a complicated character than a series of disjointed meditations. They take the unfortunate step of dividing Yocasta into four separate parts, forcing her early incarnations as a child, young bride, and pregnant matron to deliver one-note performances bent more on thematic consistency than emotional interrogation. Jennifer Lim as the youngest Yocasta constantly acts out fantasies of being a queen and a superhero, while Phyllis Johnson plays the bitter, disillusioned bride. Only Daphne Gaines as the fully-formed Yokasta and Christopher Logan Healy as Laius and Oedipus are given roles with any depth. That is not to say the play is without powerful moments, but it is telling that the most affecting interaction comes in these two actors' tender portrayal of Oedipus and Yocasta's first wedded night together, while the harrowing but fragmentary recollections of abuse and retribution by the other figures ultimately fall flat. Building from the characters and situations laid down by Sophocles, Schechner's ensemble proves itself capable of inventive explorations; as it is, however, they offer mostly scattered and unsatisfying snapshots.

 
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