For one night only, American Wulver created and performed by Lyam White was at 18th and Union Performing Arts Space. This piece is directed by K. Brian Neel. 18th and Union shows are performing in the space, but currently have no audience members in the space. Audience members can view the shows in the comfort of their own home through Zoom.
This story follows the character Fenton Talbot. He claims to be a wulver: a half-man, half-wolf, descendent of an Old-World lupine faerie. Is this a wolfman’s story or a madman’s confession? This piece is defined as a neurotic, seriocomic fantasia.
What is a wulver? A wulver derives from Shetland mythology. They are similar to a werewolf and different in the fact that they do not shapeshift. A wulver is stuck in the in-between of wolf and man. Also, unlike traditional werewolf lore, a wulver is deemed to have a kind heart. As long as he is left alone, then the wulver will leave everyone else alone. When the wulver does intervene, it’s to do generous and kind acts. These acts include guiding humans to nearby towns/villages or supply poor families with fish. This performance paid homage to the Shetland mythology of the wulver.
Our American wulver, Fenton Talbot, had mentions of fishing and giving them to poor. One of the commentaries was on the difference of how mythology has to shift from the original myths to the 21st century. What human in this century would see a fish on their doorstep and not throw it away and find it weird? That’s the situation Fenton finds himself in.
The director, K. Brian Neel, adapted seamlessly to the idea of a performance being on zoom. Lyam White would crowd up against the camera in a way to intimidate the audience. In doing so, the performance became personal—something that can be accomplished during in-person performances but can be difficult over zoom. It created a piece that understood how performances could be adapted for a streaming experience. I applaud Neel on the adapting to our current times.
Lyam White created and performed a piece that was interesting and brought rise to the mythology of the wulver. I enjoyed the balance between comedy and seriousness, making this piece truly a seriocomic fantasia.
This show was a one-night only performance, but it was a fantastic watch and interesting to learn about the mythology of the wulver.
For more information on the mythology of the wulver: https://www.transceltic.com/scottish/wulver-shetlands-kind-and-generous-werewolf
American Wulver, by Lyam White. Directed by K. Brian Neel. Produced by 18th and Union Arts Space. Performed at 18th and Union, watched on Zoom. September 25th at 10pm. Info: https://18thandunion.org/american-wulver