note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey
I wish I could tell you the point of the Zeitgeist Stage Company’s relentless saga of the Stassos family but I can’t. And I love family sagas: The Forsythes and the Conways make great drama but the only lesson I could glean from FLESH AND BLOOD (the stage adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s novel) is ‘don’t eat dirt.’ Well, something displeased the Greek gods because Constantine and his American descendants are doomed.
Director David Miller creates a gorgeous set of silhouetted trees (I wish he could design a birch room for me!), an enormous bed and an octagonal gazebo but he can’t flesh out what isn’t there in Peter Gaitens’ frustrating adaptation. We get little or no personal history, nor any motivation, for these characters. Where the heck did the incest come from? Or the blindness, which isn’t ever explained. I know, I know, you’re thinking Oedipus, but no, the blind character is Cassandra…and why name her Cassandra unless she tells the future and no one believes her. Everyone in the play happily takes her advice. And why not, she’s the soundest of the lot.
At three and a half hours, FLESH AND BLOOD is longer than the OTHELLO running next door. When you leave a Shakespeare production, you feel you that you understand the characters and have learned something profound about the human condition. No such luck with this dysfunctional bunch. The Zeitgeist cast works tirelessly but the only joys in the piece are Claude Del’s “spinning” ten year old and Dan Minkle’s fabulous drag queen.
You’re left wondering what happened to the history which was occurring while a hundred years of Greek-Americans passed by. They must have taken notice of a few wars but there’s no mention of Viet Nam although the youngest daughter succumbs from her experiments with sex and drugs (no rock ‘n roll)---nor any mention of Stonewall for the gay characters. Frankly, I’m stumped by the whole rigmarole.