Author Topic: Incredible Review in the U.S.-the writer got the show! Molly  (Read 3744 times)

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Incredible Review in the U.S.-the writer got the show! Molly
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2007, 11:00:41 PM »
Cleansed

Rude Guerrilla Theater Company at The Empire Theater


Written by Sarah Kane Directed by Dave Barton


Absolute Beauty Amidst Blatant Brutality

When putting your thinking cap on before attending the production of Cleansed, presented by Rude Guerrilla Theater Company, be sure not to put it on too tight—or you may fall victim to the show much in the way that I did. In leaving the theater, I was left wondering if I had even understood the show at all. Had any of my fellow audience members been plagued with the same uncertainty?

It was not until much later, after hours of pouring over what I had witnessed that it finally began to bludgeon me. Here I was, racking my brain attempting to ascribe meaning to every aspect of every atrocity that unfolded before me. I was searching for symbols, and trying to contextualize what little I knew of the Sarah Kane, the playwright. In wallfour terms, I was bouncing back and forth between two and five Popsicles (depending on where I currently was in convincing myself that I understood the show). Finally, I simply became exhausted with it. And then fascinated with it. In shedding away all of what I was half-sure of, I had reduced my experience to one observation that was unshakable: this show was purely beautiful.

So what is beautiful about brutality? Maybe nothing. Probably nothing. But what is beautiful here is the balance between brutality and desire. I think this balance was most deeply explored in the relationship between the character of Graham (played by Scott Caster) and his sister Grace (played by Larissa Tidwell). The connection between these two characters is magnetic. The lengths they are willing to go, or rather the tortures they are willing to endure in order to satiate their desires for each other will leave you in awe. I was particularly amazed with a difficult scene they play with a third patient named Robin (played by Scott Barber). With all three on stage, the scene illustrated the contrast between the real-life conversations with Robin and the contrived reflections between Grace and her dead brother. The result of how well all three actors allowed their conversations to intertwine, not only made the dialogue convincing, but the situation itself as something plausible.

Other patients in this hospital being run by Dr. Tinker (played by Jay Fraley) include Carl and Rod (played by Steven Wagner and Bryan Jennings respectively). These two patients are homosexual lovers, who again are subjected to agonizing tortures in order to cleanse themselves of their homosexual vices. The compassion they display toward one another is moving in its affectionate sincerity.

The other side of the balance is weighted solely by the character of Tinker. The heinousness of the deeds he is able to commit upon these expressively human patients, is grossly amplified in the obdurate and methodical ways in which he performs his punishing therapy. Fraley is excellent in this role, not only in playing this unmoved nature of Tinker, but in surprising the audience by showing the other side of his character—the impotent and fragile side of Tinker who also has his own object of desire in that of a peep-show dancer played by Molly Dewane. It is their relationship that allows us to see in full view that it is Tinker’s own self-hatred that allows him to invent and stomach the cruelties he inflicts upon his patients.

All of these things are mirrored by the staging of this show itself. Director Dave Barton has completed the full scope of what is required of this show, by giving the audience something close to a beautiful nightmare. With subtle lighting techniques, and more strikingly, with the use of sounds created off stage, Barton gives the perfect counter-balance to the purity of emotions being played out on stage. This show is such a fountain for the senses that, despite its horrors, one still cannot look away.

At the end of the show, or in reality, after coffee, dinner, sleep, and then waking, I realized what this show was telling me is simply this: desire is human. These “vices” that require “cleansing” are not vices at all: desire is what forgives them or makes them exempt from judgment. The true beauty of this show is discovering what is human.

My advice to any audience member is therefore this: 1-See this show. 2-Save the analysis and just enjoy the feeling of the show. Quite frankly, during the show, don’t think about it at all. Observe the spectacle that this production of Cleansed is, and let it come back to haunt and fascinate you on its own.

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« Last Edit: September 12, 2007, 02:13:05 PM by Iain Fisher »