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|A CurtainUp Review
The Double Bass
By Sonia Pilcer
The play is currently playing at the Mint theater through March 11th-- same star, same director. Only the address is changed: Mint Theater, 311 W. 43rd St. 5th floor (8th/9th Avs) 315-9434
I don't know why it's called the Miniature Theatre of Chester. One almost expects tiny people to perform on a puppet-size stage like in Being John Malkovich. Actually, the theater is in City Hall of the town of Chester with white columns at its entrance. Inside, there's a handsome theater with pads for the wooden seats, courtesy of the Chester bank. Obviously, this is a labor of love for the town.
The set is impressive. As the audience waits for the play to begin, we are treated to a white room with a grid of padded squares, white on white, dominated by a huge, standing bass, which seems almost human in its strength of personality.
When The Double Bass was produced in New York, The New York Times said it was "funny and intriguing" and the New York Post called it a "brilliant probe of an obsessed musician- hero." Patrick Süskind, who wrote the amazing novel Perfume, a dazzling tour de force about olifactory passion, here explores another kind of passion; namely, the musician's, or specifically, that of the player of "the deepest of all instruments," the double bass.
The Bass Player as acted by Michael W. Connors is an amiable, nice-looking young man in rimless glasses. We are guests and witnesses in the privacy of his home studio. At first, he plays CDs of familiar classical pieces. "That's me!" he calls out during Brahms, waiting for the passage when the double bass play. "It's the presence of a double bass that makes an orchestra." But as the evening continues, we see the agonies, the gradiosity, the doubts and insecurities of the artist.
The language is rich, sometimes esoteric, often humorous. This is an extended monologue in which he directly addresses the audience. "Now pay attention,"he chides us and goes on with his meditation about his particular albatross. "The deep, deep sound of the bass, the penetrating force of the instrument." And later: "the moral atrocity of the instrument."
Director Jonathan Bank and Michael W. Connors have created a moving theater piece about the obscurity of the musician on the back bench of the back row of the orchestra and his relationship to the largest and most cumbersome of the stringed instruments. "It's like a fat old woman… a real pig of an instrument."
The set and lveals what the street noise is like. We are relieved for the change in ambience. I found the white lighting on the white set ultimately wearing on the eyes and wondered what it would be like to slowly darken the room as the time passed.