by Christine Melton, Staff Writer
Online Media www.yesoursay.com)
Ms. Debra Ann Byrd’s Take Wing And Soar (TWAS) Theatre Company is riding the stratosphere. Five-time Audelco Award Winner TWAS has partnered with Voza Rivers/ New Heritage Theater Group to produce the play Massinissa, an epic historical masterpiece by Lorey Hayes. She gives us an overview of the world in 200 BC as the Carthaginian and Roman Empires vie for dominance. The play tells the history of the great Carthaginian (African) soldier, Hannibal, and his second in command, Massinissa.
Hannibal, the great African warrior, leads a surprise attack over the icy Alps Mountains on elephants to defeat the Roman army. Through several battles we hear the clash of swords, the weight of armor, stampeding animals and witness bloodshed, poison, and decapitations.
Ms. Hayes’s storytelling gift is the ability to convey ancient history in the language of The Bible and Homer, through to Shakespeare with a modern famili-arity. Massinissa is rife with murders, betrayal and larceny as well as class, race, gender and family bloodline issues.
The plot revolves around the fairer sex, their “wombs, the breeding ground of Kings and dead soldiers” and a marriage that causes massive repercussions through half the ancient world. The King of Carthage fears an attack and assuages his enemy’s aggression by wedding him to his daughter, completely dismissing that she was already betrothed.
Massinissa is outraged when he learns that his fiancé is now married and warns Hannibal that love of his woman comes before his allegiance to brotherhood and country. He threatens to destroy Hannibal if he refuses to help him get his stolen lady back. Hannibal refuses to help and Massinissa begins a vile treachery.
Ms. Hayes calls Massinissa “a story that must be told.” Her history is detailed and vivid told through Old World leaders similar to today’s leaders, except informed by the compass of “the gods”. Hannibal exemplifies that a man’s greatness is determined by his outward deeds as well as what is within his heart. Massinissa exemplifies that power is empty without love.
This cast of eighteen classically trained actors was superb with inspired performances by Lodric D. Collins,
Dianne Dixon, Kirt A. Harding, Dennis Jordan, Anja Lee, Dayo Olatokun, and Lawrence Winslow. The play is worth seeing for the magnificent sets, costumes, perfect sound effects, and the most brilliantly subtle lighting alone. The story of Massinissa is being told at The Poet’s Den 309 E.108th Street off of 2nd Ave). Experience it now as it forges its own place in history… for Massinissa will surely become part of Classic American Theater.
Sunday December 18th at 2pm or 8pm is your last opportunity to see this current run.
Michael Raimondi (Scipio Africanus) and Dayo Olakotun (Massinissa) in Lorey Hayes Epic Stage Play Massinissa: And The Tradegy of the HOuse of Thunder | Photo Hubert Williams