Monday, July 30, 2007

The Hand and the Hen

I don't think there's a problem in Woken'glacier's translation of Chilean playwright Fernando Josseau's plays: it's more a problem with transitions from director Oscar A. Mendoza, and enunciations from actress Coco Silvera. The plays themselves are giddily tragic one-acts, brief but memorable for their eccentric poise (like something out of Borges). In the first, The Hand, an inspector investigates the mysterious severance of a middle-aged man's hand. The amputee (Jeffery Steven Allen) is reasonably panicked and perturbed, whereas the detective (Paul Daily) is surprised and a little irritated by the interruption of his routine: a missing hand isn't so bad as a corpse.

The lively exchanges of desperation and exasperation work well, but the momentum is constantly interrupted by lengthly blackouts. The music that plays through them, composed by Spiros Exaras, is just as rhythmic as the language, but it clashes with the text: it has its own story, and the two don't work well in tandem. As for the second play, The Hen, let's just say that it takes a certain sort of talent to turn a tale of rape, cuckoldry, and chickens into comedy. The alienating blocking puts Him (Allen) and Her (Silvera) at odds before the show even begins; the comedy is that we root for the self-assured rapist (Daily), but it's less funny when we root for him because of his victim's poor acting.

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