Directed by: Tara Branham
Lincoln Square Theatre
Jennifer L. Mickelson seems to have a knack for channeling Sophocles. She wrote The Last Daughter of Oedipus, to satisfy her own curiosity on the fate of Oedipus’s last surviving daughter, Ismene. By no means am I an expert in Greek tragedies, but after a bit of research before seeing this show, I found myself very intrigued with Mickelson’s idea. You may want to do the same before seeing this production, or reading this review.
Sophocles wrote three interwoven tragedies; Oedipus Rex, Oedipus the King, and the final installment, Antigone. Antigone is the younger sister of Ismene, and is killed by her uncle Creon. With only two members surviving in the Oedipal “bloodline,” we have been waiting 2,452 years for a theorized status update on this cursed kingdom. That’s where Mickelson comes in.
We find Ismene, played by Kimberly Logan, on a quest to find out how to dismantle the curse of her family and to release Thebes from her Uncle Creon’s tyrannical grip. Accompanied by her free servant Zeva, played by Eleanor Katz, Ismene goes on a pilgrimage to seek advice and guidance from an oracle. Constantly haunted by the ghosts of her relatives, Ismene is driven mad with guilt and rage, however is persevering in her quest to redeem her family and her people.
Performed by the Babes with Blades, an all female “combat” theatre group, The Last Daughter of Oedipus is served well by this “no nonsense” cast of women. (They are two men in this show, but relatively inconsequential) “The Babes” handle swords, and kick-ass with the best of them. The acting isn’t bad either…a great ensemble for this script. Logan’s Ismene seemed flat in the beginning, but she turned things around and punctuated the show with a great second act. The script was well thought out, and was well crafted. The dialogue seemed to stay consistent with other Greek tragedies…slightly touched up with some modern English for today’s audience.
But it was the story itself left a lot to be desired. It seemed that the plot only satisfied answers in the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes. This left me with a good hour and half to sit and wait. Wait for something relevant to happen. While I was waiting, I was losing any sympathy for the characters and becoming emotionally unattached with the story.
Again, a great cast (Note: I would advise looking into other Babes with Blades productions)with a great idea, but just not a lot of substance. I think if the script were to be more compact with some more heightened suspense, there would be no doubt that this could suffice for the fourth and final installment of Sophocles’s epic tale.
John B. Reinhardt
Date Reviewed: 8/28/10
For full show information, check out The Last Daughter of Oedipus page at TheatreInChicago.
Lincoln Square Theatre/ 4754 N. Leavitt Chicago / $20/$12 students and seniors w/ I.D./ “Pay What You Can Thursdays”/ General admission / Running time approximately 120 minutes w intermission/ Aug. 26th thru Sept. 25th / Thurs-Sat. at 8pm Sun at 7pm