Beloved daughters of King Pandion of Athens, Procne and Philomela live a happy and comfortable life. Younger daughter Philomela seems especially blissful and ignorant of the troubles that those who are not in her privileged position face. When celebrated soldier King Tereus of Thrace brings a gift of slaves to Pandion, Philomela is shocked at what they have to say and defensive of her father and way of life. To reward Tereus for his victories in battle, Pandion gives him his oldest daughter's hand in marriage. Procne must leave her sister and home to be a wife of the king. After a few years of a mostly happy life, Procne asks her husband to return to Athens and bring her sister for a visit. Tereus obliges, but on the return voyage he finds that he wants Philomela, so he sets her up in a cabin where he repeatedly rapes and tortures her. When Procne finds out, she vows revenge, and the sisters serve him up some black-eyed peas... or something. Something so dark and twisted only the Greeks could think it up.
|Procne (Jill Iverson)|
|Philomela (Suzi Gard)|
Tereus is a soldier who is unable to turn off his violent side when away from the battle field. I couldn't help but think of the recent allegations of domestic abuse and violence against NFL players, men who are also trained to be violent and aggressive at their jobs, some of whom seem unable to turn it off when they get home. This is definitely not a play that resides only in the past.
If We Were Birds is beautifully written by playwright Erin Shields; it feels epic and mythical, but also fresh and modern. The subject is a difficult one but one that's important to witness and examine, something that this production and this cast do well. It's a short run and playing through this weekend only, so get their quickly to experience this challenging and rewarding piece (discount tickets available on Goldstar).