A man of many parts

Spare Tongues

By Mouza Pavlova
Adapted and Directed by Dan Thorens
Presented by Thirteenth Street Repertory Company
50 W. 13th St. (675-6677)
Non-union production (through April)
Review by Sheila Mart

Spare Tongues, originally written in Russian and discovered in France, probably loses its idiomatic sense when translated into another language - in this case English. It is a pastiche, a parody in allegorical form of the day-to-day problems of everyday "normal" characters. All of these characters, The Concierge (Daniel Asher), Hamlet/Sazon (Paul Casali), Vlass Vlassitch (Mel England), The Piano Man (Larry Frank), The Box Office Person, Petrova (Katherine Hinchey), The Box Office Office Person, Petrovykh (Ardes Quinn) and Prov, The Young Man (David Skigen) gave credible performances with what they were asked to do, with one exception. Katherine Hinchey was a little over the top (her shrieking was uncalled for, especially in a small theatre), notwithstanding the exaggeratedly stylized presentations of all the characters.

The first half of this play appeared to start off as a comment, a man and a woman in an unheated theatre, watching a production of Hamlet, with the woman explaining the story in capsule form. The implication from the first scene was that the Hamlet characters would then evolve into their "real-life" counterparts, but that didn't happen. The next scene segued into a barroom with a couple of the "regulars" present; the bartender, the Concierge, and a ghost of a recent regular. The Piano Man was perhaps the most believable and complete character here.

The second half of the play was set in a railway carriage on a train bound for Petrov. The strangest passenger on this journey (David Skigen) was a walking marvel of body parts - most of his organs had been replaced due to irreparable damage caused by various accidents to the originals. He was barely a human being, having to be pulled, pushed, and twisted into workable condition - hence the allegory of the whole piece, one would assume. The end result seems to be eight characters in search of a play.

The director (Dan Thorens) achieved a viable result for the tone of the piece, but he should instruct his actors to do their accents consistently, or not at all.

The sets, using padded wooden benches, regular chairs and a very realistic bar admirably set the tone of the piece - it's not a play, because there is no real construction.

The lighting (by Jeff T.Carnell) was mood-sensitive and was impressive.

Judy Schaefer's costumes were effective and imaginative.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 1999 Sheila Mart