February 12, 2012 – In order to properly appreciate the lustre of our theatre reviews, you should scroll down to the Part I and then scroll back to this, Part II. 

Francis Shepherd-Bates, pictured above, ably directed the play   

Ms. Knisely and her three male cast members, put on a Russian accent for the play with Keith Kalinowski occasionally revealing his Midwestern origins.  The Playbill indicates he lives in my home town of Ann Arbor.  Sometimes you feel as though the cast is going to burst out with the eternal question: “Have you killed moose and skvirl?”  But I was convinced throughout that the characters were Russian and that the scenes, even with the bare-bone square boxes as props were, in fact, Russia.  So the ethnic character of the play was asserted successfully.

There is no way I can describe the story. That’s because there may not be a story. After all, this is a play of the absurdist genre, so the author doesn’t have to feel bound by convention to tie the scenes together thematically.  (This freedom from the bonds of linear story-telling resembles David Lynch’s obsession with dream motifs such as in Eraserhead).  But the repetition of characters, the “mild mannered part time banker”, for example,  indicate a continuity of story leading up to evidently nothing.  There is a thread of substance interwoven into the series of episodes:  the pregnant woman, Chekov’s long suffering bimbo mistress, the Clouseau-like inspector; and the play is bordered by scenes at the very beginning (three soldiers standing in a row with plastic weapons) and at the end (another three men standing in a row, this time with no plastic rifles).  So, it could be said that the play was not entirely dadaistic.  I have this nagging belief that a second viewing might disclose greater thematic cohesion than meets the eye.  I’ll think upon this and see if anyone will accompany me.  I know that my wife won’t although she liked the play. 

So far, the Abreact theatre has presented me with two plays, both in the spirit of absurdism.  The first was “Waiting for Godot”, by Samuel Beckett, and the second was “Burn the Red Banner”, by Mr. Vitella.  This April the Abreact is presenting “Endgame” by Beckett, a seeming acknowledgement that the Abreact’s production team is artistically committed to the “black comedy, existentialist, absurdist” school of theatre.  Nothing wrong with that.  If their Endgame is as excellent as their Godot,  I’m going to be very happy.

The Abreact charges no admission but does ask its audience to make small contributions to the company.  A gift between $10.00 to $30.00 per person would be just fine.  You should also make a small contribution to their canteen for the beer and wine.  Curbside parking is very available, costing nothing in the evening.  Smoking allowed outside (very uncivilized but not the fault of the theatre).  In the event of a catastrophic fire,  you’ll be pleased to know that the black curtains to your right hide windows giving on to Lafayette Avenue.  You can lift an armchair and break out with ease and into the arms of safety.  Once you get used to the labyrinthine layout, you can find rest rooms with ease.  Gentlemen raise the seat.   ZAF