By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Into the fray wanders Bug (the luminous Tania Verafield), initially posing as a boy for her own protection, and desiring little more than to be left alone as she treks toward the ocean — the only sight that has ever given her solace. Craig wryly observes the subtle competition between Flynn and August for her romantic and erotic attentions, while Flynn, somewhat nobly, tries to preserve the scattered shards of civilization among them. But even he can’t prevent the crucifixion at play’s end.
John Perrin Flynn’s tender staging elicits gentle, truthful performances from his wonderful ensemble in a tone that counters the play’s waves of tragic romanticism with riffs of subtle humor — all of which keep the maudlin at bay.
“Where are the snowfalls of yesterday?” laments Husband (Bo Roberts, in a deliberately absurd silver-streaked wig). Paris, the City of Light, is long destroyed in Ionesco’s The Chairs (translated by Donald Allen). Husband and Wife (Cynthia Mance, in a similarly absurd wig), live out their last moments on a remote island room through the repetition of trite phrases and the harrowing memories of abandonment and unfulfilled ambitions. Before their double suicide — leaping into that same ocean that Bug yearns to see — Husband will make a speech — a final declaration for future generations — if they even exist, about the meaning of life. For this grand coup de théâtre (playwrights ruminating on the end of the world always seem to turn to the theater as the ultimate church of meaning and purpose), the couple brings in chairs for guests only they can see, because Ionesco wanted us to feel the room’s emptiness, and then to observe how his clowns try to fill it with their fantasies of lecherous military men, belles of the ball and the emperor — not unlike Craig conjuring Romeo, Juliet and Superman.
Husband lacks the confidence to speak for himself, so he hires an Orator (Garth Whitten), who, after a a pompous, florid entrance, delivers that incomprehensible cacophony of grunts.
Frederique Michel’s staging works in fits and starts, with beautiful balletic sequences and a crescendo of excitement as the invisible guests arrive. The banter, however, is too unvarying in its tone.
TREEFALL | By HENRY MURRAY | Presented by ROGUE MACHINE at THEATRE/THEATER | 5041 Pico Blvd., L.A. | Through September 6 | (323) 960-7774
THE CHAIRS | By EUGENE IONESCO | Presented by CITY GARAGE | 1340½ Fourth St. (alley entrance), Santa Monica | Through September 13 | (310) 319-9939