The Yuba College Theatre did a wonderful job in its presentation of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s “The Love of the Nightingale.” From the set they built to the blood they shed, the actors did beautifully.
The central characters, Philomele and Procne, did especially well. Deborah Lineker presented a perfectly naïve Philomele and invoked the emotions of the audience in her character’s pain. Procne, played by Staci Johnson, had a very strong voice and made a very believable older sister.It was nearly frightening how well Noah Gillett presented Tereus, Procne’s husband who forces himself upon Philomele. He did well in that sort of serious, commanding role.
Equally scary is the scene where a soldier, played by Keith Lampe, carries the corpse of the captain, played by Brandon Noonan, off the stage. The audience was in awe at this jaw-dropping feat.
The male and female choruses did very well in transitioning from speaker to speaker while staying in their characters.
And the costumes were perfect. The lighting and set were fabulous, and the props worked brilliantly.
Amanda Anderson did a terrific job playing Niobe, the funny old woman who takes care of Philomele. Niobe’s philosophy is that you can maintain an adequate existence if you overlook the bad things that happen and just accept them as they come.
The most memorable performance of the evening was that of young Cole Wheeler as the character Itys, the son of Procne and Tereus. He dies in the play, showing that sometimes bad things must happen to innocent lives in order to get retribution for the suffering of others. Wheeler, who is approximately 11 years old, gave a darling performance, bringing both tears and laughter to the set.
The play has an odd ending. Instead of the characters continuing a cycle of vengence and violence, the main characters are transformed into birds. If the characters had remained in their human forms, none of them would learn from their actions and the suffering would continue. As a bird, Philomele is able to tell Itys why violence against women is wrong. She is given back her voice.