This lesser-known work from Eugene Ionesco, presented by A Red Orchid, shows the master of absurdist theater working in a more fabulistic mode; many of the play’s abstract sequences could have been lifted from an unproduced Bergman film. Ionesco’s hero Jean (Lance Stuart Baker) leaves his wife (Kathie Logelin) and child along with his decrepit, dangerously slanty apartment in search of a vague dream. Along the way, he banters with museum guards about a mysterious woman before arriving at a sinister monastery. Ionesco deftly and abruptly shifts the tone of the play from lighthearted to chilling as the fanatic Brother Tarabas (Si Osborne) directs a play within the play on the utter malleability of the human spirit. This final act, in which the promise of soup is used to shatter the convictions of two starving prisoners, contains the play’s real raw energy. Earlier episodes threaten to drift into a poetic ethereality. This tendency is accentuated by the performances, particular Baker’s. Baker has demonstrated that he’s one of the city’s smartest and most versatile actors, as anyone who saw him in last year’s pairing of “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “Travesties” at the Court will recall. But his Jean is mostly a collection of tics, not just uncomfortable within his skin, but continuously threatening to burst out of it. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.