Review: 'Animals out of Paper'

 

4 stars -- Butler

University Theatre, Lilly Hall, April 14-18

Directed by Bernardo

Rey

I'm not sure who is

luckier, visiting artist-in-resident Bernardo Rey, for being able to work with

such disciplined college talent, or the students, for the chance to work with

this formidable Colombian-born artist. Early nineteenth century German writer

Georg Buchner gets the credit for ahead-of-his-time poetic dialogue and working

class characters. However, what's most affecting about this production of his

unfinished play is the poetry of performance, a fascinating and complete

integration of movement, music (student Scott Comanzo), costume design (faculty

Wendy Meaden), lighting (student Jeff Irlbeck), and the set and masks created

by students in Rey's classes. It's an odd joy to walk into Butler's black box,

transformed into a mental institution. The audience must maneuver in on either side

of a rectangular room and watch the play through barred windows. The former

soldier Woyzeck is now a patient who seems to get paid for being insane,

perhaps a commentary on his war work. The action in and out of the asylum is

performed within the same grimy locale, which makes his life one disturbing

nightmare. The characters are defined by their grotesque masks, wigs, body

ticks, and purposely strained voices. They interact one on one, as if in

traditional theater, then shout or sing in unison, as if in a macabre musical.

Whether in solo or in chorus, the players always feel united in task, scuttling

like bugs across the stage. Like an army—and perhaps that is the

point--they are admirably, eerily synchronized. 940-9659; www.butler.edu/theatre

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