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A CurtainUp Review
Peninsula by Elyse Sommer
In between the endless pauses, ungrammatical fragments ("I want to sleeps") and non sequiturs that substitute for meaningful dialogue("you are a small onion . . .an octupus bum-bum"), here's what it's about, or seems to be about: The title sets the scene. We're in a strife torn country (which incidentally seems less Spanish-speaking than Eastern European). Stability and freedom have apparently run amok as evident from the intermittent sounds of explosions and gun shots and the nervous, alienated behavior and abstracted talk of its citizenry.
The deterioration of the overall environment is also reflected in the apparently decaying marriage of the two main characters known only as Husband (David Chandler) and Woman (Marielle Heller). After an opening scene that makes it relatively clear that they are trying to deal with their troubled relationships, the plot takes the form of their various errands around town: She to visit various shops, all with the same clerk in charge (Louis Cancelmi). There's an implication that the woman's outings to clean house for an old woman and shop probably (but not definitely) include sex with the various clerks. . .the husband buys shoes which he claims are for a friend from a clerk (Cancelmi again) who prefers taking a photograph to money; being mysteriously ill, the husband also visits a doctor. The man and woman together also visit a church presided over by a priest (Tim Cummings) who shows up again towards the end in civilian clothes having tired of his priestly duties. His chance encounter with the Woman leads to a rain-drenched, go-nowhere ending.
Besides a cast which is to be commended for dealing with Kent's odd dialogue and what is basically much-done story done up by Kent's in emperor's clothing, Peninsula also boasts a striking set by Narelle Sissons. The theater has been reconfigured so that the stage is wide enough to accommodate Sassons' four wooden double doors that open up to reveal a surprising array of individual sets including a bedroom with small adjoining dressing room that gives the effect of a church confessional, a pharmacy, a hat store and a shoe store. For the encounter between the Woman and ex-priest, instead of the doors swinging open, a board cleverly flips down to become a roof serving as a protective canopy against the rain. Under Ms. Kent's over-stylized directions, the barn-like doors are opened and shut at such a measured pace that even the inventive set is undermined.
The SoHo Rep has built a deserved reputation for presenting quality productions that attract the much sought-after 18 to 35demographic. At the performance I attended the audience was atypically mostly over 35 (a benefit group?) with unsurprisingly quite a few snoozers. But my guess is that even the theater's more usual constituency will find this an interminably long 90 minutes. My advice to playwrights looking for new ways to express themselves: Stick to your native tongue.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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>6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
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