“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” is how James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome said it in 1966. (And Brown denied Newsome’s contributions to the song in court decades later, as if to prove the title correct.)
“Woman Is the Nigger of the World,” is how John Lennon and Yoko Ono said it in 1972.
“Every man has a choice to make: Commitment, or new pussy?” is how Chris Rock said it in 1996.
And The Love of the Nightingale is how Sophocles said it two-and-a-half millennia earlier, give or take, which got filtered through Ovid’s brain four centuries later, and then British playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker’s just eight years ago. In her astute update of the sad story of Philomele and Procne, Wertenbaker dares to have one of her characters, an innocent, ask what a myth is.
“The oblique image of an unwanted truth, reverberating through time,” comes the answer.
And the unwanted truth reverberating, hard, through The Love of the Nightingale is this: Men. Are. Dogs.
My review of Constellation Theatre Company‘s The Love of the Nightingale — the best thing I’ve seen from that group in its seven-year existence — continues in today’s Washington City Paper, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away for free.
Matthew Schleigh, Megan Dominy, and Rena Cherry Brown in The Love of the Nightingale. (Stan Barouh)