Poetic license


By Lee Wochner
Directed by Eliza Beckwith
New Directions Theatre/IRT
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Marshall Yaeger

No question about the giftedness of all the participants in this production. But the writer's frothy style made the mystery less intriguing than, say, Pinter's dramatic obscurantism.

In this play, no depth charges exploded; just a gaggle of supersensitive "gifted" people bantered about, threw around some weighty bons mots (such as "Mene, mene, tekel upharsin"-which God, but no audience, really understands). Then lots of stirring and stirring (as in much ado about spoiled food by a character with extraordinary smell).

Some humor displayed whimsically funny notions: such as talking lava lamps, framed yarn art of dogs playing poker, or xerographic ovens where you put one chicken in and take out two.

The director got excellent actors (as is usually the case in this company) with which to stage some nice tableaux. But standing an actor on a chair tried a little too hard to move things along.

Courtney Rohler's character's gift was to know where everything is. She ruined everybody's find-a-word puzzles and never lost a thing in her life.

Jed Krascella played the character with the extraordinary nose. His talent bordered on the disgusting, however, when he mistook Ms. Courtney's yeast infection for a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Jamie Heinlein leapt into and out of hysterics much of the time. Her over-dramatized seamstress character went into extended monologues (practically a catalogue raisonné of Jackson Pollack's could-have-been works!) that went nowhere interesting. But she did create a sculpture of sorts-or rather, Paula Wood, who did the set, created possibly the best thing in the play. It looked like a petrified plastic placenta bush with buttons and fur.

If all that wasn't mysterious enough, Glen Williamson showed up playing an enigma who talked riddles. No one yet really knows what he was up to, except that he never lost his concentration being up to it.

An Inspector called (played by James Raymond Sutton in a grossed-out powder-blue uniform by Julia Van Vliet). He tried to shoot the hero, but his efforts were as strenuous as trying to off Rasputin. Even the gun failed to fire in this performance, inspiring one helpful audience member to suggest a knife.

This play wasn't particularly illuminating-although the lighting by Izzy Einsidler was always bright. But it might have been triply meaningful for some: for (1) poetry was inserted at the end and talk of poetry was stitched in at the middle (except that, although the title was Anapest, only a spondee got special mention); (2) somebody died, which always signals significance; and (3) all the surviving characters, in a sudden epiphany, changed.

And left town-which was a pretty quick apotheosis, come to think of it. But, then, that's poetic license.

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

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Copyright 1998 Marshall Yaeger