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Showing posts from March, 2015

Woyzeck FJF

Woyzeck FJF
by Georg Buchner
adapted by Jeremy Duncan Pape and D.L. Siegel
directed by Jeremy Duncan Pape
presented by No-Win Productions
Georg Buchner, German, wrote Woyzeck in 1837, but the play wasn’t produced until 1913. Its distinction among important plays is that it’s probably unfinished, and we don’t even know in what order the scenes were meant to be presented. Its series of scenes are held together less by plot than by theme.
Woyzeck tells the story of a downtrodden soldier oppressed and humiliated by his betters. A doctor uses him as for experiment and orders him to eat nothing but peas. His military superior routinely abuses him verbally. His mistress takes a lover and finally, at the end of his tether, Woyzeck murders her.
No-Win productions has set the play in a psychiatric hospital. We recognize this immediately by the padded wall. Alfred Schatz’ set is simple and handsome, a white wall over a white floor, two beds. Woyzeck and Andres (Andres is Woyzeck’s buddy in the orig…

Kafka's Quest

Kafka’s Quest
by Lu Hauser
directed by Manfred Bormann
Presented by Theater for the New City
In Kafka’s Quest, playwright Lu Hauser conflates Franz Kafka with his most recognizable character, Gregor Samsa, the anti-hero in the story The Metamorphosis. Kafka and the fictitious Samsa each lived/lives with his parents and a sister (Kafka had three sisters, actually). The character’s name is Samsa, but he’s just as much Kafka as he is that character. This sort of devise, this referral to literature, demands a lot of playwrighting skill, and it’s likely to fail. Ms. Hauser, however, handles it deftly.
This Samsa also reflects Kafka’s life in his relationship with a couple of performers in the Yiddish theater, characters based as well on actual people, Itzhak Lowy and Mme. Trassik. The split stage on Anna Yates’ nice, spare set reflects their interpersonal environments.
Throughout the play, we see Samsa writing material relating to his overbearing father, material that would become Kafka’s boo…

Judgment on a Gray Beach

Judgment on a Gray Beach
presented by La MaMa in association with Teatro Dramma
written and directed by Elia Schneider

Judgment on a Gray Beach, written and directed by Elia Schneider, presented by La MaMa in association with Teatro Dramma, is a series of bizarre, sometimes haunting images. Without dialogue, its ten deadpan actors are uber-marionettes expressing an uncompromising desolation. The person and the spirit of Franz Kafka pervade the piece.
A disembodied voice at the opening of the show tells us we’re at “a closed road and a dead end.” We find ourselves on a desolate beach (there’s sand on the floor of the bare stage), but it may as well be a concentration camp.
Schneider works with icons – a Hitler character, a ballerina. All are drained of emotion. Making the stage picture surreal, all the costumes are black. The only color is on a couple of almost-Nazi armbands.
Everyone’s a prisoner here. There’s the almost-Hitler character has a number on the back of his shirt, and at one …