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.

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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?

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Front Row Center

"I was profoundly moved by this play. The vision and artistry of the playwright, Luis Alfaro. The strength of the cast and the excellence of the production values. Not to mention the incredible courage of the actors playing Oedipus and Jocasta, and the sensitivity and deftness of the direction by Chay Yew, all combined to produce an experience I keep hearing and seeing in my head." Full Review


“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 on a New York stage...Alfaro illuminates the ancient themes of the Oedipus story in thrillingly modern ways, giving us a new appreciation for the myth." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Under the notably clean, clear, and focused direction of Chay Yew, this timeless tale remains as gripping as ever...Every member of the cast has caught the distinct urban rhythm of Alfaro's dialogue...Alfaro has taken one of the world's oldest stories and made it as new as today. That's a pretty mighty achievement all by itself; he delivers on the promise, made by the chorus, that the story of Oedipus is really a story about us.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Thrilling...The play pulses with a rhythm much like a drive down a south central LA street...The Jocasta-Oedipus love story has always existed but only by implication with the text, and here in this deeper examination, we find the electricity...The look and feel of this production is as simple as it is powerful...No one is going to get out unscathed in 'Oedipus el Rey,' except for maybe all these wonderfully talented artists involved in this powerful and electrifying production.” Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

“Deconstructs the classic distilling it to its essence and reconstructs the tragedy with a painful and sometimes disquieting relevance to metamodernism...Mr. Alfaro’s play is something new and transcendent...The focus on the love between Oedipus and Jocasta is refreshing and transformative...Alfaro’s 'Oedipus El Rey' raises rich and enduring questions, some timeless, some relevant to the current socio-economic environment.” Full Review

New York Theater

"Luis Alfaro’s modern adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy turns it into something new and shocking, bringing on stage what the Greek playwright kept off stage, in an intense, visceral production...If it begins feeling stagey, 'Oedipus El Rey' becomes brutal and direct, but also graphically sensuous and oddly tender - ultimately in all ways gripping...'Oedipus El Rey' builds in power in large part due to its committed cast." Full Review

The New York Times

“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 also makes for a salacious watch...Mr. Alfaro’s version is both a reiteration of a classic tale and an invitation to flip the script.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“The playwright has filled the work with layers of meaning and with strong connections between the mystic and the naturalistic, while all the while keeping it convincingly planted with one foot in the realm of the ancient and the other in the modern...Under the astute guidance of director Chay Yew, is a well-conceived and original take on the Oedipus myth, nicely brought to fruition by a fine cast and production team.” Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"The moral becomes something far more tangible and relevant than, say, the validity of fatalism...Alfaro’s adaptation takes a close look at the relationship between Jocasta and Oedipus. The scenes between them are tender and vastly different from the rest of the play...Director Chay Yew has a way with maintaining the rhythm of this complex, multigenerational epic...It is without a doubt a refreshing take on a familiar story, too familiar." Full Review


“This new version of Sophocles' ancient classic is marked with violence, rage, and passion...Playwright Luis Alfaro nimbly skates over the surface of the Oedipus story, only lingering when it comes to the love affair between Oedipus and Jocasta...As directed by Chay Yew, this all plays out as a soul-stretching experience, a great chance to experience Sophocles’ great classic in a steamy Latin key.” Full Review

Time Out New York

“'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 Alfaro to find Sophocles, for director Yew to find Alfaro and for all the actors to find one another. But when they do, it turns out those old Greek timbers are more than ready to catch fire again.” Full Review

The Wrap

“A more apt title would be ‘Oedipus Sex’...One of the longest nude scenes on stage between two actors. Certainly, it is one of the most movingly crafted and perform...Chay Yew doesn’t so much direct as choreograph this very fast trajectory from prison to freedom to entrapment, spreading it across a vast panoramic canvas...Under Yew’s direction, Alfaro and his actors take the opposite route to the characters’ expected tragic ends.” Full Review

Edge New York

“Delgado brings a wanting and vulnerability to the unlucky queen, though the script's heavy foreshadowing in her dialogue lays it on too thick. The same is true for the chorus…The most impressive part of "Oedipus El Rey," is how it builds upon Sophocles' existential questions about the nature of humanity and grounds them in important social commentary about incarceration and people of color…An engaging new take on an old story.” Full Review

Stage and Cinema

“A spectacular production...Energetic performances, excellent use of a spare but effective set, dramatic lighting and music all make a powerful impression. This in spite of the fact that the play itself—though it begins well and is intelligent and often funny—in the end doesn’t satisfy....The writing never quite offers a sense of authenticity...One can feel the vibration of ideas within Mr. Alfaro’s work. But like so many problematic plays, this one feels like it can use a few rewrites.” Full Review

Village Voice

"Alfaro’s modern adaptation might leave you puzzled...The lengthy love scene emphasizes the performers’ nudity at the expense of their thoughts and emotions...The thought-provoking analogy between destiny and a system of oppression calls for more complexity...Produced in collaboration with Padrón’s excellent Sol Project, dedicated to creating space for Latinx playwrights...It’s a vital and necessary endeavor...Ditto Alfaro’s vision for contemporary L.A.” Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"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 'Oedipus' undoubtedly examines a world that’s ripe with narrative potential, but tonally, he ends up shrinking the play instead of widening its scope. " Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy well-devised, modern adaptations of classic plays

Don't see it if You're a traditionalist, are uncomfortable with full nudity, or the story of Oedipus itself

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Riveting, Great cast

See it if you want to see a master playwright's culturally-specific take on Oedipus; if you want to encounter a brilliant all-Latinx cast of actors

Don't see it if you can't with contemporary retellings of classical plays; if extended nudity freaks you out

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Raunchy, Entertaining

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, Ambitious, Edgy, Disappointing, Cliched

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.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a fresh version of the Oedipus story acted with passion.

Don't see it if you want to see a traditional Shakespeare play or are offended by nudity.

Clever, Edgy, Intense, Profound, Raunchy

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.

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

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, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Great staging

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

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Disappointing

See it if you’re interested in a somewhat modern take on this classic story, or if you desire to see every production having to do with Oedipus.

Don't see it if you’re expecting a spot-on production. All of the actors work hard; skills vary from fair to good. I left the theater feeling nothing.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, 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, Clever, Masterful, Great writing

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 acting, Resonant

See it if you want to see a refreshing take on a classic play

Don't see it if you can't handle violence, nudity, or sexual situations on stage

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Great staging

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

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

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

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Great staging, Visceral

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.

Intense, Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated, Slow

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.

Ambitious, Clever, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if Like interesting interpretation of Greek classics

Don't see it if Do not like modern settings for Greek classics

Ambitious, Clever, Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Relevant

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, Exquisite, Intelligent, Entertaining

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.

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

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.

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing, Erotic

See it if You are a interested in modern retellings of ancient myths. You like erotically charged material.

Don't see it if You are looking for something fluffy.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Great writing

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

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

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

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Riveting, Great staging

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

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

Cast & Creatives (15)