Archive for June 16th, 2010

Stage cap from Sebastian Barry's 'White Woman Street' at the Irish Repetory Theatre

by Sam Juliano

     Irish playwright Sebastian Barry has a gift for language.  But in his “western” White Woman Street, which is presently winding down it’s run at the Irish Repetory Theatre, this propensity makes for a bizarre marriage of poetry and monologues.  The result is an overload of talk, with incoherent sentences and long passages that are ill-fitted to the stage.  Granted, the production’s director Charlotte Moore is more concerned with impressionistic notions, and a meditation on myths and memories, than any kind of historical documentation, and in that sense the show hits it’s mark, even in the narratively lugubrious first half.  But this is basically what Barry’s theatre is all about, and his detractors have long maintained that his poetic style is ill-suited to the theatrical form.  Theatre goers with a taste beyond standard dialogue, however, are in for a treat.

     Had Barry been truly interested in a revisionist western, he might have opted to set White Woman Street in a period and place more archetypal than 1916 Ohio, especially with the employment of dialogue that addresses issues like Indian oppression and cultural displacement.  Coincidentally, the rock musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, written by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, still running at the Public Theatre, deals with the same issues, and even with distinct satirical underpinnings, there’s a stronger resonance.  Barry’s intent is clearly symbolic, as it’s clear enough that his early 20th Century Buckeye state setting is meant to mirror the Easter Uprising  in Ireland, and aging Trooper O’Hara’s dream of returning home.  In fact, by shifting his focus to America, Barry employs symbols that establish the same type of need to reconnect with the past and establish domestic stability.  But it’s difficult to negotiate the disjointed progression, story incoherence, and loquatiousness of the characters.  And the thick Irish brogues don’t quite match up with the actors, recalling Puccini’s opera La Fanciulla del West, where cowboys spoke in Italian. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Hungary/Germany 2000 151m) DVD1/2

Aka. Werckmeister Harmóniák

Through the eyes of the whale

p  Franz Goëss, Miklós Szita, Joachim von Vietinghoff, Paul Saadoun  d  Bela Tarr  w  Bela Tarr, László Krasznahorkai, Peter Dobrai, Gyuri Dósa Kiss, György Feher  novel  “The Melancholy of Resistance” by László Krasznahorkai  ph  Miklós Gurbán, Erwin Lanzenberger, Gábor Medvigy, Emil Novák, Rob Tregenza, Patrick de Ranter, Jörg Widmer  ed  Agnes Hranitzky  m  Mihály Vig

Lars Rudolph (János Valuska), Peter Fitz (György Eszter), Hanna Schygulla (Tünde Eszter), Janos Derzsi (man in broad cloth coat), Djoko Russich (man in western boots), Irén Sjazki (Mrs Harrer), Alfréd Járai (Lajos Harrer), Lajos Dobák (Mr Volent), György Barko (Mr Nabadán), Éva Almássy Albert (Aunt Piri), Ferenc Kállai, Enikö Börcsök,

A young man tries to explain the intricacy of the cosmos to patrons at a local bar in a Dance of the Solar System, with the clientele acting as sun, moon, earth and other heavenly bodies.  It’s a surreal moment, rather like those playground exercises you did as kids when it was warm and your science teacher spared you the stifling heat of the lab.  So begins Béla Tarr’s first feature film after Sátántangó, and one well worth the wait. 

            Like the earlier masterpiece, the setting is a small Hungarian community, maybe larger than the one in Tango but no less desolate, and one where a great commotion is caused by the announcement of the arrival of a circus with not only the gargantuan attraction of a massive stuffed whale but the enigmatically named Prince.  Their arrival will stir violent reprisals and upheaval, from which the idealistic János shirks in terror, realising his beliefs may be come to nothing as the world heads to oblivion.  (more…)

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