Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Poor Itch

Photo/Joan Marcus

The Public Lab is selling itself short: not only is their production of The Poor Itch about as far as you can get from "barebones"; it's also incredibly rich, not just in content, but in the insightful glimpse it gives us of a playwright's mind. John Belluso died before completing his tale about a disabled (physically paraplegic and mentally PSTD) Iraq veteran, but his friend, Lisa Peterson, has boldly directed his play anyway, filling in the blanks by having actors read his notes for unwritten scenes, and by staging multiple drafts of scenes in quick succession. (Think of David Ives's Sure Thing, only not as a comic gimmick.) This choice also gives a nice parallel to Ian's deterioration over the course of the play: Act I is largely finished, but Act II is a much rougher beast, not just from the fragments that exist, but from the overarching attempts at symbolism and deep-rooted themes linking America and war. Especially for $10, this is a must-see.

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