Already closed | 1h 40m | East Village

Oedipus El Rey

From 89 member  reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Intense, Great staging

About the show

The Public Theater and the Sol Project present this new take on the classic Greek tragedy, set in South Central LA. More…

Oedipus is reimagined as a troubled Latino whose dreams of controlling his own destiny soar above the barbed wire of the prison where he’s spent his life. But in a place where everyone is trapped—by desperation or fate, history or violence—no one man can change his story alone. Love, family, and belief collide in this chilling new play that asks: what’s fate, and what’s just the system?

Member Reviews (89)


Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Intense, Great staging
Avg Score

Powerful, Well-staged, Intense, Thought-provoking, Imaginative

See it if intense, inventive theater appeals to you. This retelling is powerful. Largely well-acted w/strong staging. Some lines fell flat.

Don't see it if you get thrown by Spanglish. Or you want elaborate sets/costumes. Some fun effects, though (use of jail doors, sound, lights). Full nudity.

Also This re-imaging of the Oedipus story was highly effective. The plot wa... Read more Read less

Intense, Clever, Edgy, Raunchy, Profound

See it if L.A. urban gang is beset by Greek tragedy. Humans dare to ignore/defy their gods/fate. Raw, sexual, brutal, powerful, alive.

Don't see it if You are not up for a violent expressionist modern rendition of a Greek classic. Full male & female nudity and a long sex scene.

Ambitious, Edgy, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if Alfaro's fiery reworking of Sophocles' drama set in a LA south-central barrio High octane fusion of machismo & destiny w/fusillade staging

Don't see it if Takes a little time to build its characters & plotline but soon hits its stride & no returning Castano's Oedipus dynamic but often garbled

Classic greek tragedy reimagined in hispanic barrio setting; original blood curdling, "el rey" not as much

See it if promising idea: recast Oedipus as a barrio crime king who takes over from father he slays; scenes of Oed in prison are strong

Don't see it if Oed's "fate" tied to being victim of prison system rather than "the Gods" not that persuasive; in your face acting

Cliched, Disappointing, Intense, Slow, Overrated

See it if You’re a Latino or young person (18+) new to theatre who’d be interested in a modern adaptation of a classic over a traditional staging.

Don't see it if You fear a generic combination of Oedipus + modern Latino adaptation — you’d be right. There’s nothing innovative here.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Edgy, Intense

See it if You want to see an urban version of the Greek tragedy

Don't see it if Nudity and explicit sexual scenes upset you

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Edgy, Raunchy

See it if You enjoy a well told re-imagining of a classic. And you don't mind your theater intense and dramatic. Sometimes slow but still very good.

Don't see it if You don't like nudity/simulated sex. While I found this is one of the few plays where it didn't't feel gratuitous, it might be off-putting.

Absorbing, Clever, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy modern twists on classic stories. Creative adaptation which considers how the themes apply to contemporary social issues.

Don't see it if you get bored of the classics even when told in fresh new ways, you're offended by full nudity (long sex scene between man and woman)

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if you like a creative contemporary take on the Oedipus story.

Don't see it if you are a traditionalist and are offended by language and nudity

Powerful adaptation of classic, Often riveting, Intense, Great staging

See it if Adapting the Greek classic to the LA barrio makes sense to the drama, if not the sensibility, of the story but the fatalism of the original

Don't see it if Is underplayed so what is left is a gang war story without undercurrent of preordainment. Still, machismo and swagger totally convincing.

Intense, Clever, Great acting, Interesting modern interpretation of a classic story, Riveting

See it if you want to see this classic story modernized amidst an urban gang and prison setting. Well-acted, but intense and in your face.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with intense stories, graphic violence, graphic language, or nudity. All necessary to the story and tastefully done.

Also I thought this was a very interesting interpretation of the Oedipus st... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Resonant, Intelligent, Brilliant retelling of a classic

See it if You appreciate intelligent reimagined productions of classics. You are a fan of are my ensemble acting.

Don't see it if You are easily offended by language, violence, or nudity.

Great staging, Visceral, Intense, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if You like fresh takes on classic plays that provide new insights on the original.

Don't see it if You are put off by violence and graphic sexuality.

Also Clever adaptation that grips you hard.

Intriguing, Ambitious, Intense at times

See it if You love the concept, and enjoy passionate acting.

Don't see it if You are chagrined if there is a failure of authenticity, or too much story, and not enough time to tell it well, or some weak links acting.

Also I really wanted to like this, as most did, but I seldom felt the text ... Read more Read less

Riveting, Ambitious, Edgy, Great writing

See it if Based on the Greek myth, but set in So. California, a Mexican youth lives in and through the tragedy.

Don't see it if A harsh drama is not your cup of tea.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if Retelling of the Oedipus story set in Los Angeles prison and barrio - raw and sexy pulses with violence and energy

Don't see it if You can’t take violence or nudity ( the sex scene between Oedipus and Jocasta is long and hot) or need your classics pure and structured

Clever, Ambitious, Epic, Great acting, Intense

See it if you are familiar with the Oedipus story and appreciate a clever adaptation that remains faithful for the original.

Don't see it if violence or full nudity (male and female) is bothersome.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Riveting

See it if Riveting cast and script envelop you in this modern retelling; Inspirational staging and stagecraft

Don't see it if Intensity drop in middle of act; notable nudity and sexual situations

Great acting, Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Indulgent

See it if It's an adaptation that, though creative, doesn't really work. There are bits of terrific poetry here and some very fine acting, but...

Don't see it if it's too long; the violence and sex are unnecessarily literal and lengthy. The story doesn't really fit, emotionally or dramatically.

Ambitious, Cliched, Disappointing, Edgy, Absorbing

See it if You love to see the classics reconsidered, want a Latinx spinning the Greeks.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a wholesale reimagining. This takes the smallest steps possible and doesn’t feel like it achieved anything really new.

Great writing, Masterful, Ambitious, Clever

See it if adaptations of classic work dont mind you

Don't see it if you prefer not to see full frontal nudity for a very long time on stage

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great staging, Great acting, Intense

See it if Very Original innovative highly choreographed theater. A new twist brought to a classic story. Well acted . Exciting production

Don't see it if You are put off by brutal fights and sexually intense scenes - are offended by nudity and a classic play twisted into something original

Disappointing, Slow

See it if you do not know the Oedipus story. Not that this is a very interesting telling of that story.

Don't see it if you want an absorbing telling of the Oedipus story. As others have said, do not see it if nudity/"fake" violence makes you uncomfortable.

Also I see from the other Show-Scorers that I am in the minority in terms o... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if you want to see an expert and refreshing adaptation of the Greek classic, set in a socially relevant context.

Don't see it if you do not enjoy the Greeks or adaptations of them.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Exquisite, Intelligent

See it if Oedipus set in East LA with a skillful Latin cast. Rhyme of Language add to the power of the story. Told with integrity and style. Great

Don't see it if if tired of the Shakespeare story, Small production at Public.

October 25th, 2017
“Directed by Chay Yew with energy and flair...What Sophocles left offstage — the violence, the sex — Mr. Yew confidently stages. What preoccupied the Greeks — the shepherds, the oracles, the hunt for Laius’s murderer — falls away. This gives 'Oedipus El Rey' swagger, oomph and economy, but it als...
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October 24th, 2017
“'Oedipus El Rey' doesn’t come into its strength right away, but stick with it...Alfaro’s retelling of ancient myth builds to kiln-hot intensity...There are exchanges of real richness between Oedipus and Jocasta—their mutual seduction is extraordinarily brave and tender...It takes a while for Alf...
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October 25th, 2017
"Often this 'Oedipus', both play and character, seems flattened out. As Alfaro checks off the boxes of the Greek tragedy’s backstory, he tends to drain the source material of its cosmic horror, ending up with a plodding coming-of-age story to which we all know the inevitable end...Alfaro’s 'Oedip...
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October 24th, 2017
“A production that fully engages our senses and emotions...An adaptation that feels both urgently relevant and timeless...The whole stage pulses with life under the sweaty, passionate direction of Yew...An intimate moment between Jocasta and Oedipus is among the sexiest things one can legally see...
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