Anachronistic readings of the classics can be hit or miss; modern readings can tarnish golden oldies. But Luis Alfaro’s barrio-based retelling of the Oedipus legend reinforces the tragedy of hubris in a gritty, unforgiving setting.
Oedipus (Adam Poss) is penitentiary-raised by his blind father (Eddie Torres). On release, he ignores his father’s advice and heads to Los Angeles, where he kills the barrio’s floundering king (Madrid St. Angelo), takes his crown and marries Jocasta (Charin Alvarez), his… well, you know. Alfaro’s rewrite is both poetic and sarcastic, a successful collapse of high and low brow.
The piece lags occasionally; a tender scene between the lovers drags. Director Chay Yew’s decision to bring the action off Kevin Depinet’s sparse, versatile prison set was brave; I wanted more of it. But the ensemble’s creation of tough, violent characters tied to tradition, family and sappy pop songs excuse the piece’s flaws. (Lisa Buscani)
Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 North Lincoln, (773)871-3000. Through July 29.