Friday, November 23, 2007

Rag And Bone

photo: Sandra Coudert

Near the top of Noah Haidle's absurdist play, a poet is begging in the street because he can no longer feel emotion since his heart was stolen. He means it literally: his heart was thieved right out of his chest, hence the bloodsoaked shirt. What he doesn't find out until well into the play, but we learn almost immediately, is that his sensitive poet's heart is a desirable commodity on the black market, where numb-hearted customers can buy a transplant. This is the third absurd comedy I've seen by this playwright and I'm turned on by the mix of whimsy and wisdom he gets by concretizing the metaphorical (in his play Vigils, for instance, he depicted a widow who had trouble dating again because her dead husband was still with her, literally, in a trunk in the bedroom) and I'm jazzed by the worlds he creates, which are ruled by a warped logic. But Rag And Bone grinds almost to a halt when it breaks with its own logic early in the second act - the poet's heart gives a millionaire profound empathy but it doesn't transform him into the poet, yet a son is changed into his mother when he installs her heart. While the play is nonetheless always engaging and scores high on the freshness scale, the actors in this production have been pushed (and costumed) too far to the extreme; that comes dangerously close to taking the heart out of the play.

No comments: