Dea (Odyssey Theatre; 99 seats; $ 20 top) Theatre West and Commonwealth Prods. present a play in two acts by Mary Jane Roberts. Directed by Jerry Evans. Original music, Arthur B. Rubenstein; set, J. Norman Snave; lighting, Doc Ballard; sound, Andrew Parks. Opened Oct. 5, reviewed Oct. 20; runs through Nov. 10. Running time: 1 hour, 30 min. Cast: Mary Layne (Dea), Blake Gibbons (Jason). Medea, the femme fatale of Euripides fame, had been inflicted with a devastating history of sacrifice, deception, tyranny and betrayal, making plausible the final act of vengeance against her traitorous husband, Jason. Mary Jane Roberts' modern-day adaptation, "Dea," omits all the background action and characters, cutting right to the chase: a war of words between a rejected fading film star (Mary Layne) and her rising star ex-husband (Blake Gibbons) over the life or death of their two young boys. Despite inspired performances by Layne and Gibbons, playwright Roberts does not offer enough substance to justify the horrific conclusion to this macabre pas de deux. As in the tale of old, Jason has rejected his wife and the mother of his two children in favor of the daughter of a man of power (the head of a film studio) who can move his career up a notch. On the evening before Jason's wedding, the rejected Dea has attached electrodes to her two drugged children, which are connected to the house security system. Jason is forced to have a final dinner with his ex and somehow persuade her to deactivate the electrical charge and not commit this ultimate act. Roberts has created an extremely effective actors' exercise, and director Jerry Evans does an admirable job of keeping the actors focused on the shifting dynamic between the antagonists. Gibbons' Jason bares his soul and emotions to find some argument to dissuade Dea, played with bone-chilling calm by Layne. Once Dea has convinced Jason that she will do what she says, the two actors lock into one another with laser-like concentration that builds to a palpable intensity by play's end. But despite the high level of performance, no justification is established for the play's conclusion. Sifting through all the words, Dea is killing her children simply because Jason broke his wedding vow of "until death do us part." Since the audience has never been privy to all the other dastardly things Dea says have happened to her, it is impossible to empathize with her plight. In fact, all evidence points to the strong possibility she had been a very difficult person to live with, and much of her misfortune was her own doing. The fate of Euripides' Medea is the stuff of classic tragedy. There is no tragedy to the death of Dea's children, just emptiness. Scenic designer J. Norman Snave's outline of the interior of a Bel-Air estate is darkly foreboding, a proper setting for the confrontation between Dea and Jason. The atmosphere is further enhanced by Arthur Rubenstein's wonderfully moody original music. Julio Martinez

Dea (Odyssey Theatre; 99 seats; $ 20 top) Theatre West and Commonwealth Prods. present a play in two acts by Mary Jane Roberts. Directed by Jerry Evans. Original music, Arthur B. Rubenstein; set, J. Norman Snave; lighting, Doc Ballard; sound, Andrew Parks. Opened Oct. 5, reviewed Oct. 20; runs through Nov. 10. Running time: 1 hour, 30 min. Cast: Mary Layne (Dea), Blake Gibbons (Jason). Medea, the femme fatale of Euripides fame, had been inflicted with a devastating history of sacrifice, deception, tyranny and betrayal, making plausible the final act of vengeance against her traitorous husband, Jason. Mary Jane Roberts’ modern-day adaptation, “Dea,” omits all the background action and characters, cutting right to the chase: a war of words between a rejected fading film star (Mary Layne) and her rising star ex-husband (Blake Gibbons) over the life or death of their two young boys. Despite inspired performances by Layne and Gibbons, playwright Roberts does not offer enough substance to justify the horrific conclusion to this macabre pas de deux. As in the tale of old, Jason has rejected his wife and the mother of his two children in favor of the daughter of a man of power (the head of a film studio) who can move his career up a notch. On the evening before Jason’s wedding, the rejected Dea has attached electrodes to her two drugged children, which are connected to the house security system. Jason is forced to have a final dinner with his ex and somehow persuade her to deactivate the electrical charge and not commit this ultimate act. Roberts has created an extremely effective actors’ exercise, and director Jerry Evans does an admirable job of keeping the actors focused on the shifting dynamic between the antagonists. Gibbons’ Jason bares his soul and emotions to find some argument to dissuade Dea, played with bone-chilling calm by Layne. Once Dea has convinced Jason that she will do what she says, the two actors lock into one another with laser-like concentration that builds to a palpable intensity by play’s end. But despite the high level of performance, no justification is established for the play’s conclusion. Sifting through all the words, Dea is killing her children simply because Jason broke his wedding vow of “until death do us part.” Since the audience has never been privy to all the other dastardly things Dea says have happened to her, it is impossible to empathize with her plight. In fact, all evidence points to the strong possibility she had been a very difficult person to live with, and much of her misfortune was her own doing. The fate of Euripides’ Medea is the stuff of classic tragedy. There is no tragedy to the death of Dea’s children, just emptiness. Scenic designer J. Norman Snave’s outline of the interior of a Bel-Air estate is darkly foreboding, a proper setting for the confrontation between Dea and Jason. The atmosphere is further enhanced by Arthur Rubenstein’s wonderfully moody original music. Julio Martinez

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