January 26, 2019
These days, life’s absurdities are the norm. Therefore, Ionesco Suite was both familiar and farcically disturbing. Exaggerated characters are draped around a long white table. At times it was reminiscent of an Ingmar Bergman play where a family gathers at the dining room table, at first in civilized fashion until family members start to regurgitate absurd realities in the darkness of winter.
A major voice in the world of the “theater of the absurd” Eugene Ionesco could skewer the best and worst societies. Scraps of his plays are sampled in the play including “The Bald Soprano,” Jack,” “Conversation and French Speech Exercises” and “The Lesson.” This particular production is the creation of Theatre de la Ville’s artistic and directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota. Extremely physical, the animated actors used their faces as vividly as their bodies and voices. All parts of their physical being were activated by the stage directions and rhythmically composed, staccato language buoyed by Jefferson Lembeye & Walter N’guyen’s incidental music, and stark sets and lighting design by Yves Collet.
Hysteria of one level or another ties a selection of scenes together. Families rowdily ball at a son, a wedding couple bicker about whether or not a turtle and snail are one and the same, or a fireman races in desperate for a fire. There are plenty more examples two wacky people looking at the same thing but seeing two different realties. Both disturbing and funny, there’s the “Ground Hog Day” aspect to the people who just insisting or repeating their observations over and over again. One of the wildest physical comedy scenes erupts in the end—over and in a cake.
Sadly, “Ionesco Suite” reflects too many Americans who wake up on a daily basis to curiouser and curioser headlines.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis