THE INDIAN WANTS THE BRONX, Skire Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Israel Horovitz's tale of urban violence is not the shocker it was in 1964. Confronted with an hour of watching two teenage hoodlums terrorize an East Indian fresh off the boat, we can respond in one of several ways: identify with the victim and call for a police escort home from the theater, identify with the predators and wonder why their prey never makes any attempt to run or resist, impose an allegorical interpretation on the text about American imperialism, or in this production distract ourselves with the multimedia additions mandated by Skire Theatre Company's mission, among them provocative slide projections, unimaginatively chosen music, and a danced prologue that mimes the action to come.
That prologue turns out to be more necessary than director Jerry Curran may have anticipated. Philip Ghantous as the non-English-speaking immigrant ignores most of his opportunities to convey personality and subtext nonverbally. And Andy Misko's mower-mouthed delivery as the more aggressive of the bullies renders his lines almost unintelligible. This leaves Chicago newcomer Jason Otway to tell us--using the actor's tools of face, voice, and body--who his character is and why we should care.
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with Skire's multimedia concept. Indeed, it may prove interesting once this company stops thinking of a script as a mere clothesline on which to hang it.
--Mary Shen Barnidge