|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
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
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
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.