The ancient Greek theater was, by all accounts, an intensely communal experience, so we suppose a case could be made for Graney’s application of his promenade style to Oedipus as a fitting revival of tradition: By taking us out of the polite safety of our seats and making us part of the action, the director awakens the kind of active engagement that Sophocles’ audiences regularly practiced.
Or maybe he just staged it this way for shits and giggles. The Hypocrites’ puckish artistic director is known for mashing up a hodgepodge of symbols and set pieces that seem to dare us to guess at the thought processes that led him there. His three-actor, modern-language riff on the play that inspired a Freudian complex is no different. Courtney O’Neill’s garbage-strewn, freak-chic set is enclosed within blue tarps and populated with playground furniture and shower-stall totem poles; Creon, as played by Kays, decorates his work space with plastic hula girls.
Happily, parsing Graney’s impulses feels in this instance like a worthy exercise (though a passing familiarity with the source text is recommended, lest you feel excluded by so many in-jokes). He’s deeply indebted to a feverishly committed cast; Wilson as the headstrong motherlover of a king and the always-fascinating Stoltz and Kays in multiple roles turn in arrestingly athletic performances. Still, Graney needs to keep asking himself, “To what end?” The use of promenade here seems like a less-justified shadow of his electric staging of Edward II last fall. He’s in danger of the device becoming just another trick up his sleeve.