The scene is a mountain pass in ancient Greece, on the road to Thebes. The pass is guarded by a priestess from the temple of Hera and by a sphinx who must ask a riddle of all who pass. If the traveler cannot solve the riddle he is hurled to his death, but if he can he is allowed to pass—and proceed to his doom. A young man approaches, and while the priestess pleads that he be allowed to turn back, or to pass unchallenged, the sphinx is adamant that the riddle must be posed. The priestess retires, and the sphinx accosts the young man, Oedipus, who has come from Delphi, where he has consulted the oracle. At first he denies this, but the sphinx knows his story without his telling it—and foretells what lies ahead for him as well. In keeping with the casual, offhand mood of the play, Oedipus attempts to treat these disclosures lightly, but inevitably he cannot. The riddle is asked, and solved, the sphinx vanishes forever, and Oedipus proceeds to the awful fate that the gods have ordained for him.
An up-to-date and imaginative interpretation of events in the life of the young Oedipus, before he goes on to the fateful encounter detailed in Oedipus Rex. Presented with great success at New York's Juilliard School, the play is especially recommended for school and contest use.