David Wheeler and the actors of the Yuba College Theatre Class present Timberlake Wertenbaker’s “The Love of the Nightingale (1989).”
Based on the Greek myth of “Tereus”, this play takes a contemporary view of violence against women by telling the tale from the victim’s point of view.
Wertenbaker empowers her female characters. Giving them the voice and the audience, she takes an aggressive stance against rape and a patriarchal society in which violent crimes go unpunished.
The story follows a curious young princess named Philomele, played by Deborah Lineker, as she discovers the extreme ideals of love, lust, power, and pain. After she is raped by her sister’s husband, Tereus, played by Noah Gillett, she goes through feelings of bewilderment, shame, sadness, and guilt.
Wertenbaker uses a play-within-a-play to expose the society’s view on women during the timeframe that the play is taking place. In this inset play, a man named Hippolytus, played by Keith Lampe, is punished by Aphrodite, played by Julie Mireless, who causes his stepmother to fall in love with him, leading to his doom.
When Tereus is faced with the retribution for raping Philomele, he blames her and her sister Procne, played by Staci Johnson. In this way Wertenbaker is relating the play to the rape cases in the U.S. in the 1980’s, when many rapists avoided punishment by claiming that their victims ‘brought it on themselves.’
This is a timeless tale that aims to educate its audience about the seriousness of violence against women. Many deep issues are brought to the surface, and the story is lightened with a generous sprinkling of dark comedy.