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A CurtainUp Review
This courageous troupe, who brought the gripping and highly praised Being Harold Pinter to the Under the Radar Festival earlier this year (Being Harold Pinter), has returned for a limited engagement that features that must-see play along with two others, Zone of Silence and the subject of this review, the haunting Discover Love.
Discover Love was first performed in an underground location in Belarus in the summer of 2008, and is based on the true story of Irina Krasovskaya, whose husband Anatoly, a businessman, was kidnapped and murdered by the Belarusian government. As one might expect of a troupe that has been forced to perform clandestinely in small studios and even in the woods, scenic design is correspondingly Spartan: a chair, a small bed and a dart board comprise the set. A short primer from the actors on the state of their nation is chilling.
At the core of Discover Love is a simple love story. A couple meets and we follow them through their youth, into their settled years and even through their quarrels and doubts about their relationship. Before it is all irreparably lost, we watch them date and tango with skill worthy of Dancing with the Stars. Anatoly's torture scene is beautifully fascinating as he gets up and falls again and again in graceful agony.
Though the play is performed in Russian with English supertitles, it is remarkably expressive: we can almost taste the sweetness of the novel oranges and mandarins that are so precious to people unused to them. If the play is flawed at all it is in its failure to tell us why Anatoly is an enemy of the government. The program notes tell us that he was "kidnapped and murdered for rendering assistance to the democratic body of Belarus." Unfortunately, though, the play itself offers nary a glimpse into Anatoly's political life. Despite those drawbacks, Discover Love needs to be seen. Powerful, urgent, and necessary, it encapsulates that which makes theater dangerous and liberating.