For a play about war crimes, I found The Commission to be very light: fitting only in that the Dreamscape Theater didn't have to change their name to the Nightmare Theater to produce this. But although I found the backward narrative to be gimmicky and ineffective, and thought that three of the four scenes were obvious and far too straightforward to leave a mark, I want to use this space to applaud the one scene, a playlet, if you will, that did scar the viewer. In this scene, Paula (Susan Ferrara) and Karl (Patrick Melville) are at their most insidiously domestic: naked and sexed out, lying atop an opulent carpet, and blissfully adulterous. The war illustrated here is a battle of the sexes, and the undercurrent of the war crimes commission, of which Karl and Paula are a part of, ripples into their treatment of one another. As long as they can compromise without compromising their own positions, they are cheerful and besotted with one another. However, when it comes time to yield, Paula suddenly grows nasty, threatening to destroy Karl's career. In turn, and with very little prodding, Karl flips the situation back on Paula, dehumanizing her in the process. The subtle twist that seals the scene is the look on Ferrara's face as she yields to Karl's rape of her, as if she can somehow screw even this most bitter of defeats into something useful for herself. Worse still than her self-rationalization is the thought that perhaps she actually needs this as well: that's the graphic, thought-provoking theater that we need more of.
[Read on] [Also blogged by: Patrick]