On Stage

Epic Engagement

Saga of the Volsungs


What: Saga of the Völsungs

Where: Sylvia Center, 250 Prospect St.


WHEN: Fri., March 13-Sat., April 4

Cost: $10-$20 per show, or $45-$75 for the marathons (includes dinner and dessert)

Info: http://www.sylviacenterforthearts.org

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

After skimming through the lengthy Wikipedia entry relating to the Saga of the Volsungs, I’m convinced the 13th century poetic epic related to the origin and decline of the dysfunctional Volsung clan is one that needs to be seen to be believed—and understood.

Luckily, the hardworking iDiOM Theater crew have been busy parsing the particulars of the sprawling tale to make it a whole lot easier to keep track of the gigantic cast of characters populating the Norse saga about a line of Viking kings through the generations.

In particular, artistic director Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao has taken on the herculean task of adapting the classic stories into a three-volume trio of plays designed to be seen either one after the other starting Fri., March 13 and continuing for three successive weekends, or in marathon showings March 28 and April 3-4 at the Sylvia Center for the Arts.

Among the gods, Vikings, werewolves, cursed ring and “divine sword that can only be drawn by a worthy hero,” the plot lines may sound somewhat familiar. And they are. They inspired composer Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” and J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical The Lord of the Rings—both of which are also standalone successes.

I’m not sure how much of the original Icelandic verse made it into iDiOM’s version of Saga of the Volsungs, but even if it’s only a fraction of the dizzying array of brutal battles, revenge killings, avunculicide, incest, magical awakenings, dream interpretations and funeral feasts to be found within, audiences should be prepared to be amazed and astounded by the array of action onstage in coming days.

Still, you’ll need to pay close attention once you’ve taken your seat. The 24 actors portraying multiple roles and singing, fighting and railing against the fates comprise not only the biggest show of iDiOM’s current season, but also the largest cast ever at the Sylvia Center.

But they haven’t done it alone. As evidenced by the photo on this page, Shu Hergenhahn-Zhao’s medieval costumes are a thing of wonder, and Ryan Han’s fight choreography has further upped the ante. Music by Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao, arrangements by Robert Fredriksen, and mead provided by Honeymoon Mead and Cidery will also be part of the mix.

A look at the title of the volumes may provide a hint of what’s to come. The Sword in the Tree starts things off, with What the Birds Said coming the first weekend of spring, followed by The Ale of Forgetfulness.

If you choose to procure tickets for the marathon performances, know that dinner and dessert will be served in the intermissions between the volumes, and that the epic engagement should answer any questions you have about the history of the Volsung clan. If not, don’t count on the Wikipedia page to provide all the answers.

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