April 30 - June 20, 1982, GREEK played at the Matrix Theater in Los Angeles. James Morrison was understudy for John Francis who had the role of Eddie/Fortune Teller. Morrison went on to play this role after this review was written.

Seldom does the theater do what it is suppose to, but GREEK, which is the American debut of playwright Steven Berkoff, puts it right again. It takes you to new places while it percolates your blood, wraps your intestines around your lungs and squeezes the breath out of you. Berkoff is to this generation what John Osborne was to his -- with one difference. Berkoff is a poet -- an angry one -- with words pouring out of his characters' mouths like strings of unending phlegm -- words of anger and injustice and digested filth. This theater rants and rails you while provoking thoughts and feelings that erupt as though GREEK was an emotional inner acne.

Based somewhat on the Oedipus myth, GREEK is part send-up but mostly a platform for Berkoff's seething. GREEK is shocking and rude to the core and graphically scatological, yet somehow it manages to rear a head beautiful in its truths and, at times, unbearably moving in its perceptions. Another amazing thing about GREEK is with all of its shouting it never loses its sense of drama, its spellbinding theatrics. It is a masterful work.

The play has been matched in diamond brilliance by the production of Susan Albert Loewenberg and associate producer Sara Maultsby. The author directed his own work with lean perfection. It is also superb technically -- from the angular scrims and blistering lights of Gerry Hariton and Vicki Baral to Peter Mitchell's shades of charcoal with an occasional splash of blood-red costumes. Theirs is work of the highest order.

Wreaths of laurel should be laid at the feet of the ensemble. Ken Danziger gives a devastating performance with his "everyman" Dad, "So what I got asbestos in my lungs/so what I got coal dust in my blood/so what I got lead poisoning in my brain/so what I got shot nerves from machines/so what I lost two fingers in the press/so what I'm deaf from the steel mills/so what I lost a lung for our old king in Dunkirk/I'd do it again/Yes I would I tell you."

Gillian Eaton pulsates her character with an overt sexuality and a sickening outrage at this tired old world and it's events. That one moment of retching surprise when her character discovers her lover and son are one and the same -- her face contorted into a mask of unbearable pain will forever be inscribed in my memory. Eaton is an indelible actress.

Paddi Edwards as the Sphinx takes on the entirety of mankind with a monologue made of razor blades. Oh, does this lioness roar! She plays good 'ol Mum too for all she's worth, which, in the case of this actress, is pure gold.

John Francis, as devoted husband/loving son, is -- now how do I say this? -- a young Olivier? His every word, every gesture has a breath of genius on it. It is pointless to go on as words are no match for these flawless portrayals.

You may hate GREEK, you may love it, but you will not forget it. If you miss it you will never forgive yourself. This is one for theatrical history. David Galligan for Drama-Logue.


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