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Sometimes in a play it is actors who are in supporting roles that make the leading actors and actresses look good, but Genevieve Fleming (Jocasta), Sean Oliver in his role as Laius, and Jason Clift portraying Oedipus in the Langara College Studio 58 production of Jocasta, left no doubt who the stars of this show are. In particular Fleming and Oliver’s performances were so riveting that they evoked powerful emotional responses from the audience, as the story, set in the ancient Greek city of Thebes, unfolded before their eyes. In part the play Jocasta, penned by Ned Dickens, is based on Greek mythology, and is a tale about the wife and mother of Oedipus Rex.

It is a shame that Vancouver’s Jessie Awards are only handed out to productions where most of the cast members are considered  to be professional and paid at the union rates, because Genevieve Fleming is worthy of such an award for her performance as Jocasta. Fleming is destined for stages far bigger than the intimate setting at Studio 58 and as this company of actors travels to Toronto in May to present Jocasta as part of the City of Wine Festival, she will no doubt garner a lot of attention from directors and producers, as will Sean Oliver. The City of Wine Festival will present for the first time, in one setting, the entire seven play cycle by Ned Dickens, which chronicles the life and times of the people of the city of Thebes.

Fleming literally transforms herself into an abused wife, a shattered and broken mother, and a woman whose heart overflows with love for her people. Every facial expression, the look in her eyes, her stiff body language and the fidgeting of her hands, communicate stress, angst and an individual who has been crushed by the circumstances of life. In one of Jocasta’s few moments of joy, Fleming’s natural smile, the softening of her body, and the tone of her voice authenticate the emotions of a woman in love.

For his part Sean Oliver plays the part of the chauvinistic, ego centric stud to the max, and he has the body and the good looks to compliment the role. Laius is a man so consumed by the curse that Zeus has pronounced upon him, that he borders on madness, and Oliver is convincing in that deportment.

Jason Clift’s character Oedipus, has enough challenges of his own, but for the most part his scenes are not as intense. He appears to be (go check your mythology) the white knight in shining armor who rides to Jocasta’s rescue, and finally brings her joy, a role in which Clift appears quite comfortable. The dynamic between Fleming and Clift on stage, rivals many of the more famous and memorable romantic couples who have graced both our stages and big screens down through the years. You could almost read the thoughts of the women in the audience, ‘He is so cute, (and as the Texans like to say), I would like to take him home and love on him for awhile.’ Clift brings to his role, not only a charm, but communicates Dickens’ intent of having Oedipus treat Jocasta as an equal and someone to be cherished, not a prize to be won.

Two individuals who appear in supporting roles, Joel Grinke as the mandolin player and xxxx as Heart deserve accolades as well. Grinke is hilarious and as any good physical and comedic actor will tell you, timing is everything and he certainly seems be tuned in well on that account. What makes his comedic touch work so well is that it comes through naturally, without appearing to be merely staged. For her part, xxx as Hart should have designs on much meatier roles in the future, because she is a very good actress, whose star should shine brightly for many years to come.

 Photo:  Genevieve Fleming and Sean Oliver as Jocasta and Laius