Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

OedipusAsolo Conservatory
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's reviews of Moon Over Buffalo, A Little Night Music and The Secret Garden

Erik Meixelsperger and Andrew Hardaway
Photo by Frank Atura
Well, no one can suggest that Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training hasn't accepted a huge challenge with its opening production of Oedipus. This play, also known as Oedipus Rex, comes to us from the dawn of organized theater, ancient Greece. Asolo is using a translation by Stephen Berg and Diskin Clay which seems to stay true to the oratorical style of the play, a style that would ideally require a large space between stage and audience. Several things collude to reduce the raw power of this play, the intimacy of The Cook Theatre and modern-day costuming among them.

Let's start with the work of the chorus, led by DeAnna Wright as Priest/Chorus Leader. They sing original music by Fabian Obispo and they do it very well, but I am unfamiliar with the style so I have no way of knowing how authentic it sounds. It is effective and carries the production well. Ms. Wright's solo declamation is a little sing-songy, intended or otherwise, to my ears. Still, she is commanding in her nun's habit, I believe that she is the spiritual mother of the rest of the chorus, clothed in modern urban rag-tag.

Andrew Hardaway commands the stage as any Oedipus must, strong of bearing and oratory. I kept wishing he were dressed in robes that he could move around in, to add to his majesty, instead of the extremely handsome black suit. Erik Meixelsperger delineates the character of Kreon in a very physical sense. His bearing, while regal, is a little bit less so than Hardaway as Oedipus, the second in command, probably with the skill set to assume the top post but without the burning desire to expose himself. The important scene between Kreon and Oedipus goes over this, Mr. and Meixelsperger's performance physically inhabits that. Olivia Osol exudes glamour in her costuming (a beautiful gown, circa 1970s-1990s) and her physical presence. Lawrence James as Teiresias is costumed and speaks as a Caribbean native, to inform the audience of his outside status. The accent, at times excellent, fades in and out of focus as he is faced with issues of declaiming long lines of text. Messenger One and Two are taken by Katie Sah and Scott Shomaker (also part of the chorus), while Shepherd is Dylan Crow (also chorus). Lara Linares, Matt Kresch and Jenny Vallancourt make up the rest of the chorus.

Associate Artistic Director Greg Leaming directs this production. It is set on a set by Jeffrey Weber that replicates the marble formality of ancient Thebes, and that is to the good. The modern dress costumes by Sofia Gonzalez work against the power of the play, but all in all Leaming has made the play as accessible to modern audiences as could be reasonably expected. Much of the excellence of the declamatory speaking has to be credited to voice and dialect coach Patricia Delorey.

Thanks to Asolo Conservatory for making a wide-ranging panorama of theatrical style available to audiences. Next up, is The Motherfucker with the Hat in January, followed by Jean Anouilh's The Rehearsal in February-March, and Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing in April-May.

Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training presents Oedipus through November 19, 2017, at the Cook Theater in the FSU Center. 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. Box Office (941) 351-8000. For more information visit

Priest/Chorus Leader: DeAnna Wright
Oedipus: Andrew Hardaway
Kreon: Erik Meixelsperger
Teiresias: Lawrence James
Jocasta: Olivia Osol*
Messenger 1: Katie Sah
Shepherd: Dylan Crow
Messenger 2: Scott Shomaker
Chorus: Dylan Crow, Sara Linares, Matt Kresch, Katie Sah, Scott Shomaker, Jenny Vallancourt*
*=Member of Actors' Equity Association

Directed by Greg Leaming
Scenic Designer: Jeffrey Weber
Lighting Designer: Chris McVicker
Costume Designer: Sofia Gonzalez
Sound Designer: Alex Pinchin
Original Music: Fabian Obispo
Production Stage Manager: Rachel Morris
Voice & Dialect Coach: Patricia DeLorey
Movement Director: Eliza Ladd
Music Director: Darren Server