Ara Da Capo | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
comment

ARIA DA CAPO, CollaborAction, at Strawdog Theatre. This seminal 40-minute one-act by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was penned in 1919, just as the Jazz Age was about to break out in a riot of flappers and lounge lizards. To intellectuals like Millay, however, that hysterical euphoria seemed a collective denial of the hard sacrifices demanded by the war to end all wars. How quickly they'd forgotten.

Despising the public's cynical desire to reduce comedy and tragedy equally to entertainments, Aria da Capo contrasts a silly commedia scene between a shallow Pierrot and a mincing Columbine with a much darker one--a sardonic parable about the power of property to sour friendship in which two shepherds playfully divide their land only to become embroiled in a lethal boundary dispute. But finally the comedians reprise their trivial duet, literally sweeping the bodies under the table.

Oona Kersey's archly stylized staging underlines the deadly pretensions of the two "entertainments." They're both played on the same level of childlike artifice in this production, but they're also both written that way. The audience must supply the saving sense of irony. Liza Bryn Williams and David Edson are cluelessly callous as the commedia cutups, Sandra Delgado and William Tellman pathetically unwitting as the territorial shepherds. Gary Sugarman brings weight to the cryptic role of Cothurnus, who stops the comedy and triggers the tragedy.

--Lawrence Bommer

Add a comment