A famous saying attributed to Edward Bulwer-Lytton states that “Genius does what is must, talent does what it can.” In the case of Hawksley Workman both apply, since he is genius and talented at the same time. He does what he must but also all that he can. His amazing show premier was on Thursday, June 3 in Toronto, Canada.
The one man performance is a modern musical remake of Euripidis ancient tragedy “The Bacchae.” Workman and his co-conceiver and director Christian Barry have turned the raw material of Greek tragedy into a disturbing, yet remarkable study of primal sexuality.
In Euripidis‘ ancient Greek tragedy the uptight young monarch Pentheas is worried that the people in Theba have drawn themselves into some kind of a hedonistic worship of god Dionysos, which includes excess drinking, sexual indulgence and violence. As soon as he is informed that his own mother is one of the Bacchae, he decides to dress himself as a woman and join the crowd. In the beginning he is just an observer, afterwards he takes action in the celebration and finally is devoured by the crowd. The most tragic element is that he gets the most fatal wounds from his own mother, Agave.
In Workman’s performance the actor becomes a part of this hedonistic worship like Pentheas also did. We see him playing a new role equally as captivating as the god Dionysos and Pentheas‘ mother, Agave.
There is ecstasy, fear, guilt and ultimate destruction during the entire performance. Workman seems to recognize that deep inside, he has the ability to transfer this knowledge to the audience without attempting to judge.
“God that comes” is cruel, tough and terrific just as Hawksley Workman himself.