Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Review
By Lisa Quintela
The story follows Parsifal, a young fool who is raised by his widowed mother in the forest. In messiah-like fashion he proves to withstand temptations from an enchantress named Kundry (Okwui Okpokwasili), among other malevolent forces, to reclaim the sacred spear (which pierced Christ's side) that will save the life of the wounded King of the Holy Grail. At first, he is incapable of empathy and unaware of his ability to do good or evil, but then painfully realizes that he must attain self-knowledge before he can assume guardianship of the Holy Grail. Through his agonizing journey, he learns compassion and is viewed as a hero for resisting his corrupt cravings.
In Jahnke's production, a naked Parsifal totes an Uzi instead of a bow and arrow and brushes off the damage his weapon can inflict by saying, "Oh this. It's nothing. In my country everyone has one." Emotionally and intellectually handicapped, he admits that he tries to read as little as possible and remains indifferent when the ailing King of Pain (Grant Neale) rolls by on a gurney. Although he suffers pain, his rite of passage, rather than redeeming him, makes him even icier and hungry for unwarranted power.
Wagner frequently described Parsifal as "a guileless fool." "Stupid is as stupid does" may still apply to Sontag's Parsifal, but this modern knight is anything but guileless.
Much like finding the grail, Jahnke discovered Sontag's dusty script some years ago while browsing through a 1991 issue of the defunct literary journal Antaeus at the Housing Works Used Book Café. His task of making a full-length play out of a drastically compressed story is certainly overwhelming.
For the first fifteen minutes, spectators can't help but be intrigued by Michael Casselli's all-white Asian-inspired set that houses a large swing upstage. More eye candy comes in the form of Black-Eyed Susan who plays an eerie ostrich-imaginatively costumed by Hillary Moore-that occasionally uses a microphone to offer prolifically vague advice to Gardiner Comfort's detached Parsifal.
Filtering the brainy script through a homoerotic lens, Jahnke's vision depicts a chorus of torso-sculpted Knights in a dream-like setting that decelerates Sontag's text into a painful snail's pace. The political references, although relevant, are not groundbreaking. And even though Jahnke's staging is incredibly graceful, with a sophisticated cast that echoes the measured movement of Japanese Noh theater, the script itself proves so spare and deeply intertextual, that the revamped Parsifal proves to be quite numbing.
The Internet Theatre Bookshop "Virtually Every Play in the World" --even out of print plays
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.