Does it count as having seen a man naked if you don't see his, er, package? Gracefully tucked, as it may be?
Does it count as having committed patricide and incest if you don't know it's your father and your mother? Gracefully unaware, as you may be?
The first question becomes a strange little metaphor for the second in Pan Pan's playful but not delicate reimagining of this particular Greek saga. Oedipus (Bush Moukarzel) belabors not only from the impediment of his lame foot but a general lameness of character, an affect of inaction that marks even his most fraught moments. When Tiresias (Ned Dennehy) -- a splendor of wide-eyed blindness that is simultaneously horrifying and deeply compelling -- yells toward Oedipus, "You're a bad actor," it is not only the frivolity of postmodern irony that tints the words, but also a very literal indictment (though, to be sure, there are no bad actors in this entire show): Oedipus, despite the blindness to his own fate, sees the destitution around him but is unable to act against it. Jocasta (Gina Moxley), in contrast, might not see the fate she's entwined within, but is surely aware of the aura of dis-ease around her and chooses not to confront it, not to look.
The metaphorical use of blindness, running through Seneca's and Sophocles' original tellings, plays out through the design of Oedipus Loves You as well, structurally exploring the nature of exposure, directly un-dressed in the very opening, but also underscoring the entire production. We see characters through a dollhouselike set, moving from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom, even as their images are reproduced on monitors set above them. As they move to the front of the stage -- a backyard complete with grill and kiddie pool -- paper-doll cutouts, handled by the crew plainly visible on the side, assume their dopplegangers' postures, gestures, even, at times, unarticulated emotions.
Yet for all this exacting and furrowed-brow seriousness -- exhibit a: the company's notes to the show, which begin by reading, "In an age of postmodern theory and the birth of postdramatic theatre, this project explores notions of aesthetics and meaning between the artist and the viewer [...]" -- there is a raucousness at the core of Oedipus Loves You. As Pan Pan intends, the show forces one not only to consider how the Oedipus myth and its varying iterations via, say, Freud might impact theatre but also pop culture, and therefore how it impacts our very considerations of self as we experience and perform it through cultural trends around us. What better way to do this than to set the scene in suburbia and have Antigone (Aoife Duffin) not only detail her maladies on the therapist's couch but also through that final vestige of teenage angst, the garage band? Each cast member donning an instrument and taking her or his turn at the mike with songs like "Limp" and "Every Hard On Needs Love" (by the band Gordon Is a Mime) might point, for sure, to the postmodern slippage between text and gesture and even a postdramatic take on modes of expression, but also to how, as we traipse our own weary ways, a random song on our iPod Shuffle might suddenly illuminate the very meaning of our plebeian lives.
By the end of the show text really does become gesture, and as the scratches Antigone manically makes on a small screen overwhelm the entire set, cutting in sharp lines of white light and shadow through prop and person alike, it is almost as if she is singlehandedly rewriting all the versions of Oedipus through her illegible, corporeal hand. What remains can't be read itself but only as it visually reverberates over and through bodies onstage.