Misery Loves Company

Addison's Out of the Loop Festival stages some strange, dark, wonderful works

It's all a clever if not particularly sophisticated indictment of media, advertising, religion and pop psychology. If it doesn't make a huge impression, well, neither do those skits on A Prairie Home Companion, but they usually have a few good lines worth repeating later on.


Oddly juxtaposed at the festival as a two-fer with Temple of Dionysus is Harold Pinter's Ashes to Ashes, an oblique, disturbing one-act that hints of a different kind of Medea-like tragedy.

In a seemingly random conversation between a middle-aged husband, Devlin (Kent Williams), and his wife, Rebecca (Theo Lane Moffett), she begins to tease about a long-ago lover. With the mystery man, she says, she played sadistic sexual games that included domination and strangulation.

Josh Hepola, center, is an ad man hired to revive interest in the Greek god of wine and debauchery in James Venhaus' new play The Temple of Dionysus.
Josh Hepola, center, is an ad man hired to revive interest in the Greek god of wine and debauchery in James Venhaus' new play The Temple of Dionysus.

Details

Through March 17. Bash is performed March 14, 15, 16 & 17. Ashes to Ashes is performed March 14 with The Whole Shebang and March 16 with The Temple of Dionysus.
Addison's WaterTower Theatre

Details emerge, drawn out under intense questioning by Devlin, and the scenario starts to sound like the memories of a Holocaust survivor. Was her "lover" actually an SS man? Was the "bundle" she tossed away a baby she had to sacrifice in a Sophie's choice moment at a train station? Are these even her memories, or is Rebecca entering the soul of a Jewish mother haunting this sun-drenched drawing room?

In the background are sounds of European-style police sirens and train engines. Are these real or part of Rebecca's memory?

With Pinter, one never knows. The meanings of his plays are to be found not in the words but in the pauses and gestures. And there are plenty of those in this one-act.

Theatre Quorum's production of Ashes to Ashes has some fine moments between the actors, who manage their British accents expertly. But director Carl Savering often places one of them with his or her back to the audience, which doesn't help when the dialogue is particularly obscure. He does create one brilliant and memorable visual when Devlin, determined to get the truth from his wife, carefully removes his tweed jacket and slooooowly rolls up the sleeves of his sweater. When he turns to walk back to her for one final interrogation, you can almost hear the click of jackbooted heels.

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