During 11th century, Norsemen pushed westward from their Scandinavian homes to settle in the frozen lands of Greenland and Iceland.
Viking warriors were a hardy bunch braving rolling seas, inhospitable climates and limited resources in their quest to expand their footprint into the new world.
Alongside the male warriors were found the elite female brigade, the shield maidens. These battle-hardened women commanded the respect of their peers and became legend.
“Gudrid the Fearless” is cut from the same rough-and-tumble fabric as the shield maidens but is a voyager and her life and times, based on historical figures, are the focus the Chetco Pelican Players latest production on stage for the next two weekends in downtown Brookings.
If you are a fan of the History Channel’s “Vikings” then you will love this original piece authored by Brookings playwright Valerie Cowan, who has painstakingly infused her love for the genre into a modern-day production. Theatergoers might remember her last offering “Vinland Saga.” This is the sequel.
Gudrid (Summer Olmos) is a mover and a shaker. The male establishment in Brattahild, Greenland, is busy struggling to square age-old traditions against newfound clan issues of the day such as faith — Odin worship versus Christianity — and the moralistic question of the historical routine Vikings practice of abandoning infants if they are determined to somehow be a burden to their society.
Gudrid has the ear of Chieftain Leif (Sean Farris) who rules with wisdom and kindness, the very traits that place his own life at risk from within his own clan via the usurping designs of his eldest son,Thorgill (Austin Sanders), who conspires with Frida (Caitlin Williams) to eliminate relatives, Thorkell (Jake Stinar) and Snorri (Sean Noland) setting the table to ultimately challenge his own father in a bloody power grab.
Want more shuffling of the deck? A parliamentary ruling body, the Althingi, periodically summons the seafarers to assemble to hash out conflicts and determine law in the new lands. Will they rule fairly? Will their decisions keep the peace?
Gudrid, a “mere woman” as she is referred to by some of the governing good old boys has her doubts and is ready to rumble.
“Gudrid the Fearless” features a supporting cast of interesting characters who add to the authenticity of the time period and helps develop the storyline in delicious ways. They are Thorjild (Bj Farris/Susan Brickley), Thorkel (Jake Stinar), Njala (Katy Pettinger), Maeja (Beth Lortscher), Thorbjorn (Lincoln Rosenburg), Sybil (Mary Anne Trailor), Skald (Dane Tippman), Halvar (Dane Tippman), Geir (Andrew Watling), Thorstein (Dwayne Paxton), Unn (Mike Hamilton) and main assemblyman (Darrin Dailey).
In addition to writing credits, Cowan also directs this production while Ariel Farris and Bj Farris recreate the 11th century stage and authentic costumes. Mike Moran handles lights and sound along with Ralph Dickey, who constructed the stage, including a clever hot springs bath with realistic steam.
“Gudrid the Fearless” by the Chetco Pelican Players is an entertaining, testosterone-powered, sword and battle ax romp into an era that, Thor himself, may have traded in his hammer for to acquire a Midgard admission ticket.
“Gudrid the Fearless” continues its run for another two weeks. Show times are Fridays Feb. 22 and March 1 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays Feb. 23 and March 2 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday matinees Feb. 24 and March 3 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for adults, students $6, and can be purchased at Wright’s Custom Framing, New Wave Video, and at the door.