Oedipus Rex?

CHARACTERS:

Oedipus

Teiresias

Jocasta

Creon

First Messenger

Priest

Herdsman

Second Messenger

Chorus of Old Thebans

ACT ONE AND ONLY

Scene: In front of the palace of Oedipus at Thebes. To the right of the stage near the altar stands the Priest with a crowd of children and citizens.

Children/Citizens are sick and injured. Coughs, sneezes, moans of pain, etc. are heard. The Priest is trying to sooth them while they wait for Oedipus and stands expectantly and impatiently facing the closed palace doors. The doors open and Oedipus comes out, glancing around at the scene outside him house.

* Sign out front reading "Home of King Oedipus of Thebes. Trespassers will be prosecuted (or persecuted) *

Oedipus:

What the heck are you doing outside my house? (wrinkles nose and waves hand in front of his face in disgust) and what is that smell? Is someone burning incense?

(Turns to Priest)

Hey, you! Get these sick people off my doorstep. Go on! Shoo! (steps toward Priest making shooing motions with his hands)

Priest:

O my king, Oedipus, the people are in need of your divine wisdom to rid our beloved city of Thebes of the cruel, painful, and lingering death that Apollo has given us. You, who is like a god in our eyes, who saved us from the Sphinx, who is the noblest of all men, our saviour,

our

Oedipus:

I get it already! You guys love me, and who could blame you? Anyway, I know all about this plague-thing and I'm way ahead of you sick people. Instead of whining and complaining, I sent my wife's brother, Creon, to ask the oracle of Apollo at Delphi how to get rid of it.

Priest:

(looks surprised) Really? Well. Good. Thanks.

Oedipus:

In fact, here he comes now.

(Enter Creon, running. He stops in front of Oedipus, out of breath)

Well? How did it go?

Creon:

It was terrific. You should have seen all the good-looking ladies at the temple. Sexy Athenians, slender Spartans, and the legs on those Argolids

Oedipus:

And the oracle?

Creon:

Oracle? No, I wasn't allowed to see her in person, but I caught a glimpse of this ankle and

Oedipus:

I mean did you ask the oracle about the plague?

Creon:

Right. That. Um, are you sure you want me to tell you in front of all these people? Maybe we should go inside.

Oedipus: (with exaggerated grandness)

Speak it to all; the grief I bear, I bear it more for these poor children who have come in full longing to

Creon:

All right all ready. Skip the poetics. Here's what the oracle said. Apparently our land is polluted and we have to find it and drive it from the city.

Oedipus:

That's it? That's easy!

Creon:

Yeah, you'd think so. First we've got to find the polluted person and then banish him from Thebes. Or kill him. The priests said something about a "murder gift", so I'm guessing we get to kill a murderer.

Oedipus:

Whose murder? Since the plague started, murders have been at an all-time low. Not much demand these days since the person you want killed will likely just drop dead on his own.

Creon:

The king before you, Laius. He was murdered and we never caught the killer.

Oedipus:

(thinking) But that was years and years ago! How on Earth are we supposed to find the murderer now? He could already be dead! I would have thought that Apollo would have punished Thebes a little closer to the actual murder.

Creon:

(fishes around for a piece of paper in his pocket) One more thing. The oracle said: "The clue is in the land; that which is sought is found; the unheeding thing escapes."

(short pause)

Oedipus:

What is that supposed to mean?

(Oedipus begins pacing while thinking)

Creon:

Would it help if I told you he was killed while travelling?

(Oedipus stops and turns to Creon)

Oedipus:

Yes! He wouldn't have been alone! All we have to do is find who he was traveling with, ask some questions, point some fingers, badda bing, badda boom, we're done!

Creon:

Yeah, except everyone he was with was killed too. One guys escaped, but he took to the hills yelling "Robbers, villains, and thieves!"

Oedipus;

Oh my! So, everyone was killed?

Creon:

Everyone.

Oedipus:

Except one guy who went nuts?

(Creon nods and Oedipus starts pacing again)

Oedipus:

But the crazy survivor shouted robbers, villains, and thieves right? Plural? As in more than one killer?

Creon:

It appears so. If there was only one guy, I would hate to meet him.

Oedipus:

So why didn't you catch these guys before? You know, when their hands were still red?

Creon:

We had a slightly larger problem eating us at the time.

Oedipus:

Right. The Sphinx. That cruel and horrible monster that I defeated with my cunning brain, thus saving you all from a horrible death. Silly me, I had forgotten.

(Turns to gathered citizens)

Never fear, brave people of Thebes! I, Oedipus, your beloved king, will solve this mystery and expel the poison from our land.

(Citizens cheer weakly and somewhat unenthusiastically)

Oedipus:

Yes, my friends. I will bring this to light again. King Phoebus Apollo fittingly took this care about the dead, and you too fittingly.

(As Oedipus talks, no longer paying attention to the crowd, the people leave until Oedipus is standing alone and still talking)

And justly you will see in me an ally, a champion of my country and the God. For when I drive pollution from the land, I will not serve a distant friend's advantage, but act in my own interest. Whoever he was that killed the king may readily wish to dispatch me with his murderous hand; so helping the dead king, I help myself.

(No one is left and Oedipus turns to face them, still caught up in his speech)

So come, my children, and. Hey! Hey! Come back! I'm not done yet!

(Oedipus leaves the stage. Only Chorus remains)

Chorus: (all speaking together)

So our king will take up the defense of the city again.

He had done so already once before,

When our land had been troubled by the terrible Sphinx.

He, a stranger, answered the riddle that had stumped most men,

And drove away the offending beast.

So we Thebans honoured him

With the throne of our recently killed king

And he rules us with kingly justice,

For

(Oedipus re-enters)

Oedipus:

Hey! I thought I told you to get off my doorstep. Go away!

(Chorus leaves centre stage and retreats to shadows)

Oedipus:

(paces around a bit, thinking, then turns to shadowed Chorus)

Wait a minute! Come back! Your king has some questions for you.

(Chorus steps free of shadows)

Oedipus:

Okay. You guys have lived here your whole lives, right? Well, even though I'm such a fantastic king you'd think I was born here, I'm actually a stranger. So, if any of you know anything about Laius's murder, or if you know who the murderer is, let me know, okay? A quick end to this plague would really save my skin right about now, if you know what I mean. I'm sure my wife would like to know who killed her first husband, even though I'm sure she prefers me to him. All the same, it would bring her peace of mind.

Chorus One:

We don't know who killed the king. Sorry.

Oedipus:

Great. There goes my only lead.

Chorus Two:

Would you like a suggestion from a bunch of old citizens?

Oedipus:

(sighs) I suppose so. I don't have much else to go on, do I?

Chorus Three:
Well, it seems to us that you might want to ask the prophet Teiresias about this mystery.

Oedipus:

(sarcastically) Really? Do you think I haven't already thought about him? Me, the brilliant man who drove off the Sphinx, disregard such an obvious answer? Thanks for nothing.

(Chorus grumbles angrily and retreats again. Enter blind prophet Teiresias escorted by a servant. Oedipus goes to him, but he changes direction. Oedipus calls to him, but they still can't meet with the confusion. Finally, Oedipus grabs his arm and leads him to the steps of the palace)

Oedipus:
There you are! What kept you? (Teiresias opens his mouth to answer, but Oedipus cuts him off) Never mind. I trust you've heard of my little problem?

Teiresias:

I'm a prophet! Of course I've heard of your problem. (sighs) Wisdom can be such a burden sometimes. Anyway, I probably shouldn't have come.

Oedipus:

Why not?

Teiresias:

Trust me. You don't want to know. Just let me go home, okay?

Oedipus:
I am the king! I command you to stay and deliver your prophecy.

Teiresias:

(sighs) Why bother? You won't understand it.

Oedipus:

I? Not understand? Do you realize whom you're addressing? I solved the riddle of the Sphinx! I can certainly solve this puny mystery.

Teiresias:

Nope. Not gonna tell you.

Oedipus:

You'd rather doom my city? I could have you thrown in prison, you know. I'm the king!

Teiresias:

Now you're mad. I can sense these things, you know.

Oedipus:
Of course I'm mad! You'd risk an entire city for the life of one murderer? If you weren't blind, I'd think you were the killer himself!

Teiresias:

Not me, but someone much, much closer to you is the land's pollution.

Oedipus:
Who?

Teiresias:

You.

Oedipus:
Me?

Teiresias:

You. You are the pollution of Thebes.

Oedipus:
(laughs) Now you're just being petty. I was mad at you, so you're getting back at me by telling me I'm the reason Thebes is plagued. Very funny. Now, who's the real murderer.

Teiresias:

I knew you wouldn't understand. Can I go home now?

Oedipus:
Not until you tell me who murdered Laius, you infuriating man.

Teiresias:

I did already. It was you. You killed the king. You are the pollution.

Oedipus:

You're really pushing it, old man.

Teiresias:

(now angry) Then I'll push it further. Not only are you the killer, but you live in the foulest shame with those you love best, yet you are more blind than I.

Oedipus:

That does it! Do you really think you can say such things and live to laugh about it tomorrow?

Teiresias:

I speak the truth. Killing me won't change a thing.

Oedipus:

(paces) Creon set you up to this, didn't he? He's such a clown, that one. He's always out to get me with his next practical joke.

Teiresias:

No joke, Oedipus. Creon is no threat to you, but you are a threat to yourself.

Oedipus:

I am king! I am the saviour of Thebes! I freed the citizens from the Sphinx. I ruled in Laius' place. I am the greatest Thebes has to offer. I have wealth, respect, and unmatched skills. Are you telling me this whole life has been false? If this is a joke of Creon's, he's going to be sorry he ever thought it up!

Teiresias:

(rises in anger but faces away from Oedipus while talking)

You may be a king, but I am not your servant! And you may joke at me being blind, but I said it before and I'll say it again. You, king, are far more blind than I am! Your eyes see nothing — nothing of your past and nothing of your future.

Oedipus:

Over here.

(Teiresias turns, facing the wrong way again. Oedipus sighs and rolls his eyes, shaking his head)

Oedipus:

Get out of here. You're obviously of no use to me. Go away while I figure out this mystery on my own.

Teiresias:

If I'm no use to you, why did you call me?

Oedipus:

I didn't know you were going to be so stupid! Now, shoo!

(Oedipus herds Teiresias off stage, but Teiresias keeps talking)

Teiresias:
One more prophecy for your mystery, king. Who were your parents?

Oedipus:
They have nothing to do with this!

Teiresias:
They do, and this piece is important. You will learn the truth today.

Oedipus:
Enough with the riddles.

Teiresias:
Enough? I thought riddles were your specialty?

Oedipus:
You're just jealous that I can answer them.

Teiresias:

Not jealous at all. Your great skill has saved the city once, but what has it done for you lately?

Oedipus:

(finally pushes Teiresias off stage) Bon voyage! Don't let the gate hit you on the way out!

(Oedipus starts heading back to the palace, wiping his hands and smiling. Behind him, Teiresias stumbles back on stage)

Teiresias:

One last word. This murder you seek is here. In name he is stranger among citizens but soon he will be shown to be a citizen true native Theban, and he'll have no joy of the discovery: blindness for sight and beggary for riches his exchange, he shall go journeying to a foreign country tapping his way before him with a stick. He shall be proved father and brother both to his own children in his house; to her that gave him birth, a son and husband both; a fellow sower in his father's bed with that same father that he murdered.

Oedipus:

Ooohhh I'm so scared. Look at me, I'm shaking in my sandals. Now beat it!

(Exeunt all except Chorus, who re-emerges from the shadows. Chorus looks around cautiously then sighs in relief)

Chorus:

4. (wipe brows in relief) He's gone.

1. I thought he'd never leave.

2. Now what are we going to do?

3. We have to find the murderer or our city is doomed!

4. Did you hear how he treated poor old Teiresias?

1. But do you think the prophecy is true?
2. Oedipus? Murder his father? How can it be? He is not a true Theban!

3. But he is our king. That must count for something among the gods.

4. I don't know what to think. I'm confused.

1. I've got a bad feeling about this whole thing.

(Enter Creon. He rushes toward the Chorus)

Creon:

Hey! Old men! Wait up!

(Chorus stops moving and waits for Creon to join them)

What's this I hear about Oedipus being mad at me? What did I do?

Chorus Two:

He thinks you're lying to him.

Creon:

Lie? Me? About what?

Chorus Three:

That you and Teiresias are trying to overthrow him by making him think he's the murderer.

Creon:

(short pause, then laughs) That's ridiculous! Has he gone nuts or something?

(Enter Oedipus)

Oedipus:

No, I'm not going nuts, you old kook. You've got a lot of nerve, showing your face around here again. I ought to throw you out of my city!

Creon:
Your city? I was here first!

Oedipus:

Yes, you were here first. I thought I could trust you, but I see it all now. You're one of them.

Creon:
One of who?

Oedipus:

Don't try to fool me with your sneaky back talk. (points accusing finger to Creon) I'm onto you. You've wanted my crown since the day I got here.

Creon:
What? Think this through for a minute. (talks slowly) In order to become king after the old king dies, you have to .

Oedipus:
Marry the queen?

Creon:

Yes! And the queen, Jocasta, is my

Oedipus:

She's your sister.

Creon:
Very good. So if I wanted to be king before Jocasta dies, I would have to

Oedipus:
Marry your sister. (realizes what he's said) Ew! That's disgusting!

Creon:
Now you're catching on.

Chorus Four:

He's got a point, Oedipus

Oedipus:
You shut up!

(Chorus retreats to shadows. Oedipus sizes Creon up suspiciously)


You know, I could just kill you and be done with it.

(Creon makes a "this guy is crazy" motion to the Chorus, who nod)

But that might annoy my wife a bit.

Creon:

Are you sure you're quite sane?

Oedipus:

Of course I'm sane! Now go away! All of you! Now!

(Chorus remain in shadow and Creon exists the stage. Oedipus remains, pacing back and forth and muttering to himself under his breath. Enter Jocasta from the palace doors)

Jocasta:

Oedipus! Come inside the house this instant! You'll catch the plague if you stay outside to long!

Oedipus:

(turns to face Jocasta) You're with me, right? No, of course you're with me. You're my wife, my beloved wife, the last person I can trust.

Jocasta:

What the heck is wrong with you? Have you been drinking again?

Oedipus:

(keeps talking as if Jocasta hadn't spoken) Not like that brother of yours, treacherous back stabber. (pauses to think a second) Maybe I should have him killed.

Jocasta:
No, no, no! No one is doing any killing. What has got you so worked up?

Oedipus:

(in a sulky, childish tone) Creon said I killed Laius and he got a prophet to come and tell me it was true and then he came and said it was true and then he tried to be king.

Jocasta:

You really have lost it, haven't you? Listen to me. Creon is not a liar and he doesn't want your throne. I know a story that will make you feel better. Come here.

(they move to sit on the palace steps. Jocasta sooths him like a child. Oedipus sucks his thumb)

Once a long time ago, an oracle came to my husband Laius and told him that our son would one day kill him.

Oedipus:
Oracles aren't very happy, are they?

Jocasta:
Not usually. Anyway, the point of the story is that Laius was not killed by our son. He was killed by robbers at the place where three roads meet.

Oedipus:
What about your son?

Jocasta:

Oh him? We pierced his ankles and left him on a mountain side somewhere to die. So, you shouldn't put so much faith in prophecies and oracles. Laius did not die as was foretold; the gods were mistaken.

Oedipus:

(sits up and smiles at Jocasta)
I knew you were with me, dear Jocasta. What a wonderful story! The son killed before he could kill, the king murdered at . (Oedipus stops dead) Where did you say he was murdered?

Jocasta:

(puzzled) The place where three roads meet, but that's not.

Oedipus:

Not the road in Phocis where it splits to run to Delphi and Daulia?

(Jocasta nods in confusion)

When?

Jocasta:
Right before you showed up, darling. I can hardly see what this is important.

Oedipus:

(stands and stars pacing around)

Oh, crap, crap, crap! What did Laius look like? Please tell me he was a young man.

Jocasta:

No, he was pretty old with white hair and features very similar to yours. He wasn't all old, mind you. We still had our share of fun. Why all the questions? Really, Oedipus, you're starting to frighten me.

Oedipus:

Just one more question, please. How many people was he traveling with?

Jocasta:

(stands) I've had enough of this, Oedipus. You're going to worry yourself blind with all this nonsense.

Oedipus:

Please?

Jocasta:

(sighs) All right. (ticks the men off on her fingers as she says them) There were five bodyguards, a herald, and of course the king's carriage. I think that was it. I told him to bring more men, but the stubborn fool didn't listen to me. Only the herald came back alive.

Oedipus:
He came here? I thought he ran for the hills, never to be heard from again.

Jocasta:
Oh, I heard from him all right. No one ever thinks to ask me about anything. You just assume that because I'm a woman, I don't know anything! Now who doesn't know everything, Mr. King?

Oedipus:
(barely restraining his temper) Jocasta, please, tell me what happened to the herald.

Jocasta:

He begged me to send him away to be a shepherd. A reasonable request, so I granted it.

Oedipus:

Can you get him back? Jocasta, I must speak with him immediately!

Jocasta:

I can, but first you have to tell me what is going on. I'm not moving one inch until you explain yourself to me.

Oedipus:

Okay. I guess you deserve to know.

Jocasta:

Damn right I do.

(Oedipus and Jocasta sit down on the steps again)

Oedipus:

(starts off slowly but picks up momentum as he speaks)

My parents were the king and queen of Corinth. I was the best citizen they ever had, and I would have kept on being the best if it hadn't been for that drunken bastard who told me something that haunted my every waking moment. I was so upset, I headed for Delphi, determined to find out if the story was true. It was horrible! I had bags under my beautiful eyes from lack of sleep, my golden god-like skin was pale. I looked a mess!

(pauses to breath)

But Apollo didn't tell me anything I wanted to hear, stupid oracle. Instead, he told me all this nonsense about sleeping with my mother and have "an accursed breed which men would not endure" for children, and that I would kill my father. Can you imagine that? Why on earth would I kill my father? And sleep with my mother — ew! But oracles have a tendency to come true, so I left Corinth to make sure I wouldn't harm my parents.

Jocasta:

Oedipus, honey, please get to the point!

Oedipus:

All right! So I was traveling around in Phocis when I came to these crossroads. There was this arrogant man in a carriage there. They tried to push me off the road so the carriage could pass! Me, a prince of Corinth! So naturally, I grew angry and defended myself.

Jocasta:

Defended yourself?

Oedipus:

Okay, so I killed them all except one guy who ran off. I'm sorry, Jocasta. I didn't know it was your husband, or even a king for that matter. He was just so rude!

Jocasta:
(slightly shaken) Don't apologize yet. It could have been a different carriage than Laius' that you, well, you know. We should wait for the shepherd. I'll go send word to him now.

Oedipus:

Excellent. Then, if he says what you said, I'll be innocent!

Jocasta:

(pauses as she's rising to her feet) Come again?

Oedipus:

(rolls his eyes) They said robbers before. If the shepherd says there were a lot of them, then I'll be free. I can't image there'd be more than one of me around.

(Oedipus and Jocasta exit. Chorus steps free of the shadows)

Chorus:

1. Another Oedipus?

2. It's getting hard enough to handle this one!

3. I don't know about you guys, but I'm getting sick of hearing about oracles.

4. I know what you mean. Are they ever true?

1. Maybe Apollo was mistaken.

2. A god mistaken? Not likely.

3. What a riddle this has turned out to be!

(Enter Jocasta carrying sacrificial garlands)

Jocasta:

Oedipus! Oedipus! Where is that man? Oh fine. Leave me to appease the gods. It's always up to me, isn't it? Well, here you are, Apollo (throws garland to altar) a lot of good this will do.

(Enter Messenger carrying letter)

Messenger:

Telegram for Oedipus! Telegram for Oedipus!

Jocasta:

He's indisposed now. I'll take it.

Messenger:
Who are you?

Jocasta:

I'm his wife, the queen of Thebes! Give me the telegram.

Messenger:

(looks her up and down) Aren't you a little old for him? I heard Oedipus was quite young. Anyway, it's against company policy to deliver the telegram to a third person.

Jocasta:

(stamps feet and yells) Give me the telegram!!!

Messenger:

(cowed) Okay already. (hands message over) The people of Corinth want their prince to return. King Polybus, Oedipus's father, has died.

Jocasta:

He is? Terrific! (calls into place) Oedipus! Get out here!

(Enter Oedipus from palace, yawning. He is wearing pajamas and carrying a teddy bear)

Oedipus:

(annoyed) What?

Jocasta:
(hands over telegram) Your father is dead.

Oedipus:

(brightens as he reads telegram) Really?

(Messenger stares in horror as Oedipus and Jocasta hug happily)

Messenger:

You Thebans sure have a strange way of grieving.

Oedipus:

(eagerly) How did he die?

Messenger:

(shrugs) Old age.

Oedipus:

But I didn't kill him.

Messenger:

(confused) No. Were you planning to?

Oedipus:
Great! The oracle was wrong! (suddenly realizes his father is dead) Oh no! Daddy! (hugs teddy bear)

Messenger:

(to Jocasta) What's his problem?

Jocasta:

He's been having a bad day. An oracle told him he'd kill his father and sleep with his mother.

Messenger:

Ew! But that shouldn't keep him from Corinth

Oedipus:

(looks up) Huh?

Messenger:

(happily) Yeah! You were adopted!

(Pause. Smiling messenger expects Oedipus to be happy at news)

Oedipus:
(angry) What?!

Jocasta:

Uh oh

Messenger:

I delivered you to him myself. A fellow shepherd found you on a mountain. You were a cute little stinker.

Oedipus:

What were you doing on the mountain?

Messenger:

I told you. I was a shepherd, for Polybus. I met another shepherd on the mountain and he gave you to me. Your feet were all tied together, but I set you free. I saved your life!

Oedipus:

(whining and upset) Why?

Messenger:

(shocked) Sheesh. Sorry for not leaving you to die.

Oedipus:

(kind of crazy) Who found me and gave me to you?

Messenger:

I don't know his name. He was another shepherd from Thebes, Laius' man.

Oedipus:

Laius! Can you find that shepherd and bring him here?

Messenger:

(shrugs) I don't even know if he's still alive. I've been in Corinth for the past few years as a messenger. I'm a little out of the shepherd loop.

Oedipus:

(frantic) Well someone should know the shepherd! Come on, people!

Chorus Four:

Maybe it's the same guy you already sent for. The sole survivor from Laius' party?

Oedipus:

(sarcastic) Wouldn't that be convenient? Come on, what are the odds of it being the same guy? Does Thebes only employ one shepherd or something? Jocasta, what do you think?

Jocasta:

Uh.. I think this has gone on far enough. Look at yourself, you're driving yourself crazy!

Oedipus:

(whiny) But we're so close!

Jocasta:
Not another word.

Oedipus:

(submissive) Yes dear.

(Exit Jocasta. Oedipus watches until she's out of sight, then turns back to the Chorus and the Messenger)

Oedipus:

(excitedly rubbing his hands together) Right. Get the shepherd. We'll solve this thing or go insane trying!

Chorus One:

I don't know maybe we should stop. The queen seemed pretty upset

Oedipus:

Oh, don't you start too! She's just mad because I may end up being a slave's son or something. Not that any common slave could possibly have a son as wonderful as me. No, I think I'm probably the son of a god — maybe even Apollo himself! Yes, my mother was probably a nymph from the mountain where I was found. That must be it.

(Enter an old man. Oedipus is still caught up in fantasizing about his origins and doesn't notice the man until a member of the Chorus loudly clears his throat)

Oedipus:

What? Oh, right. (Walks up to the old man) You must be the Herdsman I sent for, the one who can put all our minds at ease.

Herdsman:

(confused) I'm a herdsman. I don't know how I can help you, though.

Oedipus:

Of course you don't. You're thinking how could a lowly commoner like yourself possibly help me, the greatest man in Thebes.

Herdsman:

Something like that, I'm sure.

Oedipus:

Just a few questions. Were you a servant of King Laius?

Herdsman:
Yes. I was a shepherd for the old King.

Oedipus:
Where?

Herdsman:

Oh, here and there. I mostly just followed the sheep. We spent quite a bit of time up in the mountains, though.

Oedipus:

(points to Messenger) Do you know him?

Herdsman:

(glances at Messenger) Nope.

Messenger:
Oh, come on now! You remember me! I kept you company on the mountain for three years — well, the summer and autumn for three years. Remember, we used to sing those songs? (sings) "Baa baa, black sheep, have you any?"

Herdsman:
Okay, okay. I remember you. That song was so annoying!

Messenger:
Remember that baby you gave me? The one you told me to bring up as my own?

Herdsman:
Yes

Messenger:
(happily) Well, here he is!

Herdsman:
(stares from Oedipus to Messenger, then faces Messenger) Idiot! I said to bring him up as your own, not give him away!

Oedipus:
Why? Why did I have to be a shepherd?

Herdsman:

(nervously) No reason, really. (looks up at the sun) Look at the time! I really must be going, sheep to count and all

Oedipus:
Wait a minute. What aren't you telling me? I have ways of making you talk, you know.

Herdsman:
(laughing nervously) You wouldn't hurt an old man, would you?

(Oedipus snaps his fingers and two servants come out and pin the Herdsman's arms behind his back. Oedipus starts pacing in front of the nervous Herdsman)

Oedipus:
(still pacing) You gave the child to this man?

Herdsman:

Yes. The fool wasn't supposed to give it away!

Messenger:
What was I going to do with another mouth to feed?

Herdsman:
You should have thought of that before you took the baby!

Oedipus:
(stops pacing) I'll do the questioning around here, thank you very much! Now, who did you get the baby from?

Herdsman:
Oh, no one important. One thing for sure is that I didn't get it from King Laius.

Oedipus:
King Laius? Was the child a slave?

Herdsman:

(obviously lying) Uh yeah a slave

(Oedipus signals to servants and they hold the Herdsman a bit harder)

Ow! Okay, okay! The queen gave me the child herself and said it was Laius' son! Let me go already!

Oedipus:
Jocasta gave you the baby herself? Why would she do such a thing?

Herdsman:

I don't know. Something about evil oracles. If you ask me, she just couldn't stand the sight of the kid, all pink and screaming. I didn't want to take it, but I couldn't say no to the queen. (innocently) I thought if I took it and gave it to someone in another country, everything would work out just fine.

Oedipus:

(snaps) Obviously not, stupid man! (sad and sighing) Oh no. This isn't good, not good at all. Why me? Why, oh gods, would you curse such a gorgeous figure like myself? Why? Why!?

(Flees sobbing into the palace. Chorus steps free of shadows)

Chorus:

2. Poor Oedipus!

1. We told him he couldn't outsmart the gods!

4. But no.. he beat the Sphinx! He outsmarted fate! Ha! Look at him now!

3. Still, I feel sorry for him.

2. Why? He wouldn't feel sorry for you if your roles were changed.

3. You're right. He'd just tell me the shut up.

Oedipus:
(from in palace) Shut up out there!

Chorus Three:

See?

(enter second Messenger from palace)

Messenger:

(hesitantly) Um. You know Jocasta? How attached were you to her, really?

Chorus Four:
She's our queen! The last shred of sanity in this troubled household.

Messenger:

Oh. Well. She's kinda dead.

Chorus One:

Dead? How?

Messenger:

She killed herself by her own hand. Our glorious queen, struck down in the prime of her life.

Voice:

(from inside palace)

She's not quite dead yet.

Messenger:

Our glorious queen, who has been fatally wounded.

Voice:

(from inside)

I think she'll pull through.

Messenger:

(makes killing motion to waiting servant, who goes into palace. A cry is heard from within)

Voice:

(from inside)

Oh! She's dead!

Messenger:

Our glorious queen who, when she seemed on the brink of recovery, suddenly took a turn for the worst and died, is dead.

Chorus Two:

How awful! How's Oedipus dealing with the news?

(Mad, insane scream heard from within full of rage and torment. Very long scream)

Messenger:

Oh, quite well, actually.

(enter Oedipus wearing a "blindfold")

Chorus Four:

Oh my god! You've gouged out your eyes! How terrible!

Oedipus:

(slightly confused and sad. Oedipus removed blindfold and holds it up) What this? It's a mud mask. My eyes were all puffy from crying.

Chorus Three:

We know, it's okay. Jocasta was more than just a wife to you. She was a mother to us all.

Oedipus:
What? Jocasta's dead? (pause) Just kidding. I knew. (laughs)

(Oedipus wanders to the side of the stage, humming to himself and twirling. The Chorus huddles together to talk without him hearing)

Chorus:

2. What's wrong with him?

1. It must be the curse.

4. Curse?

3. The one Oedipus placed on the murderer.

4. Oh, so by placing it on the murderer, he unwittingly placed it on himself! How ironic!

2. Greeks don't have a concept of irony, stupid.

4. Sorry.

(enter Creon from palace steps)

Creon:
What a day! First the oracles, then my sister dies, now this! Luck is so on my side today. (under his breath in a singsong voice) I'm king, I'm king.

(clears throat and looks up) Oedipus, what are you doing over there?

Oedipus:

Oedipus? Who is that? I know of no such man.

Creon:
(to Chorus) What's his problem?

Chorus:
1. The lights are on, but no one is home.

2. The basket is a couple of apples short.

3. He's a couple of pillars short of a temple.

4. He's been touched by Dionysus.

1. He's a few gods short of Mt. Olympus.

Creon:
I get the idea. What should we do with him now?

Chorus Two:

We should consult the oracle again, since circumstances have changed.

Creon:
Take him to Delphi, (aside) and put in a good word for me with the oracle. That ankle rrow!

Oedipus:
(whiny) I don't wanna go to Delphi! Just leave me out here to die alone.

Creon:
Well, we all know how well that worked the first time.

Oedipus:
I'll go. Just make sure Jocasta gets buried properly, and take care of my kids.

Creon:
Where will you go?

Oedipus:
Frankly Creon, I don't give a damn.

(Exeunt All. End of the play!)