Saturday, June 02, 2007
A terrifyingly decent work by Anthony Neilson, now updated for the Iraq War, this show puts a giant knife not only to an innocent teddy bear, but to your fragile heart as well. The fact that it's graphic and disturbing is only amplified by the intimate space, and the audience reactions (they ring the stage on three sides) become as much a part of the show as the shocking story itself. However, there isn't really much revelation, and even less resolution: the plot is jumbled within the twisted mind of a deserting US soldier. The lighter first half, which focuses on the friendship of two roommates, is far more accessible, and when this old, AWOL friend of theirs shows up, all that really happens is a lengthy and somehow uniformly jagged series of scares. With more revision, the play could do a lot more to talk about morality: instead, it uses its knife-point monologues to wax about the way things used to be. Certainly not for everyone, but if you've forgotten what it was like to be disturbed at the theater, Penetrator is waiting for you.