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a Drama
by Steve Yockey

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 5374

SHOWING : October 27, 2018 - November 18, 2018



Beneath the otherworldly glow of the Northern Lights, tourists and locals mingle in the shadows of Iceland’s capital city. Told through eight interconnected vignettes, we eavesdrop on lovers, siblings, hotel employees, sex workers – and even some birds with really strong opinions about honesty. In this tour-de-force collision of sex and danger, playwright Yockey propels us on a thrilling journey through a world in which the supernatural is closer than we think.

Director Melissa Foulger
James, Hank, Ebon Gil Eplan-Frankel
Debbie, Lydia, Ambiance Sister, Ingrid, Stephanie Friedman
Naomi, Lil, Ambiance Sister, Valerie Eliana Marianes
Peter, Mike, Davey, Huldufolk J. Joe Sykes
Grigor, Leo, Aaron, Man in All Black Ben Thorpe
Martin, Ross, Robert, Man in the Down Co Michael Vine
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Gay Surrealism
by playgoer
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Steve Yockey continues his fascination with birds and the supernatural with "Reykjavik." Here we have eight loosely related scenes that take place in Iceland’s capital city. All blend the realistic with the surreal, in various proportions.

First up is "Jawbone," which uses projected dialogue to let us follow the conversation occurring in a late-night club with music blaring. It is interrupted by a lightning-paced monologue concerning the Northern Lights and the discovery of a human jawbone, before the music and subtitles start up again. It’s all a little unsettling, with a "magical" girl blurting out that blood is falling from the sky, simulated fellatio, and hints of a planned murder. Keep that all in mind.

Next is "Twelve Ravens," in which a gay couple in a hotel receives notes from the concierge that purportedly come from an unkindness of twelve ravens outside their window, commenting on their sexual relationship. This is probably the funniest and most off-kilter of the scenes, but it has some serious content about lies in the relationship. Mention is made of a thirteenth raven that has recently left the flock. Keep that in mind.

The third scene is part one of "Bittersweet," in which a gay male prostitute attempts to pleasure a client, using mind games. He tells a story of being imprisoned in the hotel, and we’re not quite sure what kernels of truth might exist in the story. Since this is part one, keep the whole thing in mind.

"Tongues," the fourth scene, starts the payoff of those things we’ve kept in mind. Once again we’re in a hotel room, with two men together in bed, sharing a joint. "Incisor," the fifth scene, continues the payoff, as a different gay couple fights on the street outside a club and then get into an altercation with a gay basher. Blood is involved.

The sixth scene is part two of "Bittersweet," with the same male prostitute and client, now in a basement room with blood on the floor. We hear another story from the prostitute that seems to echo the murder plan from the first scene, but the ending is quite different from the plan.

Seventh is "Wild Game," which finally focuses on a female pair, as they start a flirtation in a club where one is mopping up blood from a bar fight. Magic flits into the scene as the stage is cleaned up for the final scene.

The final scene, "Aurora Borealis," takes place on a rock outcropping as a brother and sister view the Northern Lights, accompanied by Huldufolk, mythical Icelandic beings. This scene contains the strongest connections to the first scene, wrapping things up as much as this surreal collection of scenes can be wrapped up. A feeling of peace pervades the scene, in contrast to the menace and murderousness of what has gone on before.

The action takes place on a unit set designed by Seamus M. Bourne, all interesting angles and starkness. Steps on either side of the stage lead up to a central platform, all painted in faux granite. Upstage, behind a large opening, we see a stockade of vertical logs. Stage right, on a small platform of its own, there’s granite corner seating behind a club table. Stage left, on the next-to-top step, there’s a double bed and stand. Projections, co-designed by Mr. Bourne and Adam Pinney, are shown on either side of the upstage opening. Ben Rawson’s lighting design nicely parallels transitions in the script to highlight the action.

Dan Bauman’s sound design is most notable at the start, as it suggests late night at a club before the show proper starts, then drowns out conversation as the action begins. All necessary sound effects from the script work wonderfully. Abby Parker’s costumes and Melisa A. Dubois’ props help to give an Icelandic feel to the proceedings.

Melissa Foulger has staged the show nicely, and fight choreography by Amelia Fischer and Connor Hammond is quite impressive. All the cast give good performances, although the unrelieved gayness of the multi-casting sometimes makes the scenes blend into one another perhaps more than they should. Stephanie Friedman and Eliana Marianes do excellent unison work as "Ambiance Sisters" in the "Bittersweet" segments, and Gil Eplan-Frankel makes Hank a charismatic figure (although the gray in his hair makes statements about him being younger than others ring false). Michael Vine is quite good as all his characters, and Ben Thorpe and Joe Sykes each have impressive turns as theirs. The production as a whole does full justice to Mr. Yockey’s quirky, dark script. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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