Aria Da Capo
- by Edna St. Vincent Millay
review by Brad Rosenstein in SF Bay Guardian
July 1, 1998
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- Until I heard about Edna St. Vincent Millay's Aria da Capo, now concluding
Exit Theatre's 1998 Absurdist Season, I had no idea the poet had ever
worked in the theater. In fact she wrote several verse plays for the
Provincetown Players, back when Greenwich Village was remaking itself as
the American bohemia.
- Aria premiered in New York in 1919 and is clearly a bitter response
Great War. As with her recherché poetic style, Millay resurrects
harlequinade as a means to address contemporary struggles. The piece
begins with Columbine (Angela Goodsell) and Pierrot (Ben Gorman)
representing a comfortable bourgeois couple, their energies restricted
chatter, pallid love, and self-indulgence. Their light comedy is interrupted
the grim appearance of Cothurnus (Glen Micheletti), who demands that the
stage be turned over to a tragedy.
- The actors representing Corydon (Rachel Brown) and Thyrsis (Tori Hinkle)
are rousted prematurely from their dressing rooms and made to enact their
play, a game between shepherds who erect a wall in their pasture and whose
battle over their respective rights to the property eventually turns deadly.
comedy of Columbine and Pierrot is then allowed to resume, but can it
ignore what's gone before? And at what cost?
- The barely 40-minute piece is clever and playful, using the classical
lightly score its social points. ("I am become a critic," says
Pierrot, trying on
identities. "There is nothing I can enjoy.") Jacqueline Blackman's
staging is unimaginative and underfunded, but she and the cast have a feeling
for the rich language, and while Aria isn't exactly a forgotten masterpiece,
certainly an intriguing curiosity.
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