Kaspar | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Kaspar, Transient Theatre. The legend of Kaspar Hauser is an intriguing one: kept in a small room for his entire childhood, the youth finally emerged on the streets of Nuremberg at age 16 able to speak only one sentence. And Transient Theatre's adaptation of Peter Handke's play Kaspar is a provocative piece of theater. Director Tammy Berlin--who with Sheila Pacione integrated Handke's script with original text--sets this Kaspar alone in a room full of objects, among them five television sets. Kaspar learns language, sound by sound, sentence by sentence, through what he sees and hears on the ever-blaring televisions, his journey to find a personality shaped by five stereotypes from contemporary television: the egotistical talk-show host, the all-perfect TV mom, the macho aggressor, the money-hungry power woman, and a soap opera Romeo.

Berlin's statement is clear: like Kaspar, our society defines itself by the meanings of objects and images constantly fed to us by television. Berlin's smooth orchestration of the play is choreographed with dramatic intensity. She's splintered Kaspar into six roles; the actors who play them work well as an ensemble, and Lily Shaw as the main Kaspar is wonderfully real, expressing the deep joy and frustration of communication and self-knowledge. This hour-long production makes a vibrant, vital comment on the trance induced by American TV.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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