The Oedipus Plays, Shakespeare Theatre

Lansburgh Theatre, Washington, D.C.
August 28 2001 – October 21, 2001

As Theseus, acknowledging a stranger to Colonus, Avery Brooks as Oedipus (PHOTO: Shakespeare Theatre)

As Theseus, listening to the tale of Avery Brooks as Oedipus, while Cynthia Martells as Antigone awaits his judgment (PHOTO: Shakespeare Theatre)

Kneeling in supplication to the gods and Avery Brooks, who has just revealed his identity as the tragic Oedipus (PHOTO: Shakespeare Theatre)

As the Chorus Leader, waiting to go on stage

Critical Response

“The fine ensemble acting disallows pointing out individual performances however especially top performances are seen in the fine acting of aforementioned Avery Brooks; Earle Hyman as Teiresias; Petronia Paley as Jocasta; Johnny Lee Davenport as Theseus; Michael Genet as Creon; and John Livingston Rolle who charms in his multi-roles.”
—Bob Anthony, Hometown Review 4U (September 3, 2001)

“Brooks pulses with a certain magnetism even stooped and quivering over a walking stick, and Michael Genet (Creon), Lance Williams (Polyneices) and Johnny Lee Davenport (Theseus) all turn in stout performances. . . .The acting [is] admirable for its scale and lucidity.”
—Nelson Pressley, Washington Post (September 5, 2001)

“Not that there aren’t a number of powerful, revelatory performances. As blind, ancient Teiresias, Earle Hyman – his eyes ringed with dark circles and his head shrouded by a long, gray wig – is an intriguing mix of authoritative, scary and grandfatherly. Johnny Lee Davenport’s steadfast Theseus, King of Athens, is the evening’s rare voice of reason and graciousness.”
—J. Wynn Rousuck, Baltimore Sun (September 5, 2001)

“‘Oedipus at Colonus,’ perhaps the least read and least compelling of this trilogy of plays, follows an exiled, elderly Oedipus as he wanders to his final resting place, Colonus. Knowing that his corpse will bring luck to its gravesite, his son and brother-in-law each implore him to return to Thebes. But he refuses. Oedipus chooses instead to die in this suburb of Athens under the protection of Theseus, played by an imposing, sure-footed Johnny Lee Davenport.”
—Peter Joseph, The GW Hatchet (September 6, 2001)

“Besides the folks mentioned earlier, Johnny Lee Davenport stands out as a fair-minded King Theseus.”
—Bob Mondello, Washington City Paper (September 7, 2001)

“In Kahn’s staging, the only highlight appears upon the entrance of the King of Colonus, Theseus (Johnny Lee Davenport). It comes as no surprise that this actor also provides the understudy for the title role. His sheer stage presence and deep, unshakeable voice are immediately gripping. Davenport takes a secondary character, one that I never recalled as even existing, and turns him into a lead force on stage.”
— Daniel Hentschel, The Hoya (September 14, 2001)

“Oedipus has determined that this is the place where he is to die (‘I am an eternal exile, show me some respect’) and Theseus (Johnny Lee Davenport in a strong and affecting performance) behaves accordingly.”
—Jayne M. Blanchard, The Washington Times (September 15, 2001)

“Kahn’s cast is nothing if not beautifully spoken. Avery Brooks is of the James Earl Jones school of resonant speech, as is Earle Hyman. Petronia Paley as both Jocasta and Eurydice (Creon’s wife) is a model of lucidity. So are Michael Genet (Creon), Johnny Lee Davenport (Theseus), Lance Williams (Polyneices), Cynthia Martells (Antigone), Tracie Thoms (Ismene) and Jovan Rameu (Haimon).”
—Dorothy Chansky, Theatermania (September 28, 2001)