Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm
Review by Ronald Gross NY Theater Buying Guide
“THE REPUBLIC, OR, MY DINNER WITH SOCRATES” Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre
Until December 15
La MaMa E.T.C. (First Floor Theater), 74A East Fourth Street Presented by La MaMa E.T.C. and GOH Productions.
Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at 2:30 PM
$18 General Admission, $13 students and seniors. Ten $10 tickets will be available to every performance on a first-come, first-served basis.
Box office (212) 475-7710, www.lamama.org
BOTTOM LINE: Our highest recommendation! An astounding and delightful portrayal of the father of Western philosophy, Socrates – with telling relevance to our current “tale of two cities” in New York City. The most innovative offering of this theatrical season.
About twenty minutes into this enchanting show, wooden puppets take on a life of their own, radical ideas about power become freshly understandable, and the current plight of our city conflates with that of Athens 2,500 years ago. It’s an astonishing feat of theatrical alchemy wrought by an immensely talented troupe inspired by a visionary genius, playwright/director Vit Horejs.
The script adapts Plato’s “Republic” with some elements from two of Plato’s dialogues: “Crito” (in which Socrates refuses to escape from prison) and “Phaedo” (about Socrates’ death). The six performers assume multiple characters and interact with shadow puppets and traditional Czech marionettes in sizes ranging from 8 to 26 inches.
Over the course of the evening, the marionettes, which begin as awkward simulacra to those unaccustomed to puppet shows, insinuate themselves into our affections. It’s a delicious pleasure to feel them come to live literally under the hands of their loving manipulators. Eventually, the roles reverse, and the wooden figures seem to have taken charge of their operators.
All the words in the play are Plato’s, but the sensibility comes right out of Occupy. Tabloid news headlines flashed on the screen periodically, remind us that we, like Socrates, are living in a city divided into rich and poor, powerful and powerless.
Crucial to the feelingfulness of this production is the work of Deborah Beshaw- Farrell, a veteran of CAM shows and a Brooklyn-based cabaret artist. Her capacious smile and exquisite stage presence anchors the doings in mature femininity, which is wholly appropriate to her role as a spokesperson for feminist equity.
The whole troupe is superb. Alan Barnes Netherton is winningly earnest as Glaucon, one of Socrates most obliging interlocutors. Christopher Broholm delivers a robust Thrasymachos, the apostle of “might makes right”. Theresa Linnihan is wonderfully overbearing as Socrates’ accuser Anytos. Jonathan Mastrojohn is commanding in his varied roles. And Vit Horejs, the maestro, orchestrates the action with arch wit, even involving an audience member for hilarity at one point.
Horejs confesses to a love-hate relationship with Plato’s “Republic” . As someone who lived in Communist Czechoslovakia until his late twenties, he is sensitive to the way Plato “in some ways designs a totalitarian state, neither left nor right. His ideal is a government that intrudes tremendously in civic liberties and uses censorship.”
He adds, “In today’s world, with governments and constitutions being overhauled all over the place, we are expressing doubts about our own political system that purports to be an example to the rest of the world. Just as in the 5th century B.C., political movements led by demagogues and sophists are taking over from the voice of reason.”
A high point of the show is the rendition of Plato’s classic parable of The Cave, given the most evocative enactment I’ve ever seen – strengthened by the fact that puppetry figures importantly in its imagery.
The puppets include marionettes designed by Jakub “Kuba” Krejci and toy marionettes designed by Milos Kasal. Set design is by Tom Lee, shadow puppets and costume design are by Theresa Linnihan and lighting design is by Federico Restrepo.
Posted November 27, 2013 at 5:53 pm
Lisa Mayo in Spiderwoman Theater’s I’LL BE RIGHT BACK, 1984.
Photo by Gerry Vezzuso.
It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Lisa Mayo of Spiderwoman Theater on Sunday, November 24, 2013. Lisa is pictured above in Spiderwoman Theater’s I’ll Be Right Back in April of 1984.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.
Posted November 13, 2013 at 6:50 pm
Posted at 6:48 pm
Posted November 7, 2013 at 5:45 pm
Posted November 1, 2013 at 3:28 pm
Posted October 31, 2013 at 3:27 pm
Posted at 3:26 pm
Posted at 3:26 pm
Posted October 30, 2013 at 5:56 pm
Posted October 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm
Posted October 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm
Posted at 6:00 pm
Posted October 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm
Posted at 4:10 pm
Posted at 2:25 pm
Posted October 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm
Posted at 12:58 pm
Posted October 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm
Posted October 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm