OFFENDING SHADOWS, TriArts Inc., at the Viaduct Theater. Playwright-director Barbara Carlisle’s years as a theater professor may have taught her how to allude to a wide variety of plays, but they haven’t helped her create a compelling piece of theater. In this turgid, plodding “meta-theatrical” feminist retelling of Sophocles’ Oedipus and Antigone (which I saw in a final preview), Carlisle focuses on the plays’ queens and commoners but throws in pointless references to Macbeth, Hamlet, Death of a Salesman, and scads of nursery rhymes.

Carlisle’s main idea is that women and working folk can’t get no respect from the Greeks. Well, sure. But she doesn’t serve them any better. A scene between Ismene (Trish Austin) and Antigone (Amy Wilhoite) reduces the sisters’ philosophical differences to a sibling squabble with all the emotional depth of Jan and Marsha Brady fighting over a sweater. Jocasta (Vicky Riego de Dios) and Eurydice (Jenn Remke) fare slightly better, but Carlisle presents their suicides as revolutionary acts (self-destruction–how very feminist). The common folk are represented by an old woman (Allison Latta) and old man (a puppet manipulated by Latta) who sit off to the side and offer supposedly wry and insightful commentary–like Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show in a Hegelian mood.

At least the show looks pretty good, thanks to Troy Fujimura and Simon Lashford’s handsome production design.

–Kerry Reid