Feast Of Wolves, Workhaus Collective performing at the Southern Theater

Pegeen Lamb and Terry Hempleman in Feast Of Wolves

Pegeen Lamb and Terry Hempleman in Feast Of Wolves. Photo by Travis Anderson.

Feast Of Wolves, a fierce and powerful drama by Alan M. Berks, is an adaptation of Aeschylus‘s Orestia Trilogy (Workhaus Collective performing, this time, at the Southern, thru Nov 15). You know, the delightful play that details the death of Agamemnon and the aftermath of the Trojan War. But don’t think you need to spend hours curled up with the Greek original before you see this one. You don’t; Berks uses the Aeschylus work as a jumping off place for a modern dress study of war-weariness, creepy and predatory sexuality and the fading “dream of peace” (as one character aptly puts it).

Feast Of Wolves (directed with tense elegance by Jeremy Wilhelm, working on a simple set that he devised) employs harsh expressionistic lighting, loud electronic hip-hop and scary-static blocking to effectively create a world of sterility-leading-to-violence. Arthur Wolfson (the always-marvelous Terry Hempleman, he of the half-smile and the never-relenting aura of authority) is the “secretary of war” in some nameless 21st century country. His war has lasted ten and half years – and his nation is tired, frightened, confused. Arthur springs a “surprise” on his wife (whose lover, Izzy, visits their house quite overtly) and daughter: son Eric is coming home from the war. Eric arrives, rigid with anger and bent with PTSD. He frightens everyone; certainly he frightened me. Eric is played with hulking power by Eric Weiman; I look forward to more from this actor.

In Act 2, Arthur dies (is murdered by Izzy) and although Feast then lacks the nexus of energy he provides, it still pushes forward, tense, taut, violent.

Or, maybe you will find the play portentous, pompous and pontifical. Ya gotta be in the mood for this one, it has to be said, and I will admit that it took me a while to get on board. But once I did I thrilled to Berks’s intensity, his adamant refusal to let go his strangle-hold on our attention. Lovely. And worthwhile.

Berks and Wilhelm get plenty of expert help from the cast. I’ve mentioned Templeman and Weiman. The women thrill. Charity Jones plays the mother with arch power. Pegeen Lamb plays daughter Ellie beautifully, simultaneously sexy, angry, svelte. There’s the smooth and sinister Izzy (the wonderful Jason Rojas) and finally the squeaky/delightful Jay Owen Eisenberg in a multiplicity of roles booth male and female.

Feast Of Wolves has a short run: it closes Nov 15. So don’t mess about. Make your rezzies.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book about the magic of bedtime stories, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, has just been published. He has written a YA novel, Deep River. His Art Dog will be produced at Salt Lake Acting Co. A screenplay, A Slaying Song Tonight, has been optioned. For more info, please visit www.johnolive.net.

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