Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Salt Girl"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark

"The Salt Girl"

by John Kuntz
Directed by David R. Gammons

Set Design by David R. Gammons
Video Design by Adam Stone
Lighting Design by Jeff Adelberg
Assistant Lighting Designer Ian King
Sound Design by Adam Stone
Costume Design by David R. Gammons
Paint Charge Kate Bosch, Trish Green
Technical Director Marc Olivere
Assistant Stage Manager Nikki DiLoreto
Production Stage Manager Adele Nadine Traub

Quint.......John Kuntz

Perhaps the most surprising thing about John Kuntz is that he is --- Thank Thespis! --- still living and working here in Boston. He is a writing and performing theatrical powerhouse so busy inventing new things he collaborates with others to complete them --- and all his work serves to bring honor and enthusiasm to our city's playhouses. He has written, for himself and for others, a string of magnificent monologues in all that genre's different styles: talking directly to the audience; talking to an invisible "other"; alternating from one speaker to others; telling stories totally from the outside; I have seen him play 23 different characters in ten minutes. He has become characters in other people's plays, notably at The Lyric Stage and with the Actors' Shakespeare Project, and inhabited David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries". He collaborated with Rick Park in writing "The Superheroine Monologues" and then handed the script on to Greg Maraio to let it blossom. I once saw him "star" in the minor role of Petruchio's servant in a fabulous production of "Taming of The Shrew". His relentless inventiveness with pen or with greasepaint could make him famous out West or down in the Apple --- but here he is in Boston pushing the envelope in a new one-actor play called "The Salt Girl" that literally makes history.

Kuntz collaborates here with Director and Designer David R. Gammons and with Sound and Video Designer Adam Stone. At the rear of the set is a sheer wall of two dozen television-sets across which multiple images march and ripple and flow, some of them illuminating details of the text with similar or contrasting pictures. Occasionally the actor almost dialogues with these repeating images. At others his is a one-on-one frank, intesely enigmatic dialogue directly with the audience. Again and again throughout the two-act play the protagonist brings himself --- almost --- to the point of a revelation, of his hated first name for instance. Instead he says he has always been called by everyone just "Quint". In fact, at play's end he says "And all I really want to say is..." but at that point the sound swells while his sincere face ernestly says things --- silently.

Quint is obsessive, and gay. Early on he carefully arranges his grocery purchases in precise places and then attempts suicide by clutching the plastic bag around his head. He's interrupted by phone-calls from a masturbating "breather" (which Kuntz plays) insisting simply "I want to fuck you." Quint's response is polite, almost apologetically negative. Why the unsuccessful attempt to die is hinted at, but never explained.

Quint says his aloof father spent his life inventing humane machines to execute murderers. He suggests this life-work was the reason people suspected his father when Quint's young sister simply disappeared and was never heard of again. He acts out his first homosexual encounter which his father, supposedly sleeping off half a bottle of scotch, silently witnessed without comment. He describes and re-lives the four days he sat beside his nearly brain-dead father after an automobile crash, waiting for any sign of life, and ultimately himself disconnecting the ventilator keeping the illusion of life alive.

I won't pretend to understand this play, but I think both Quint and his creator will be alright with this. It is an intense, involving, fascinating experience, however enigmatic. There are hints left to the audience to work out for themselves, perhaps differently for each individual. I have myself exposed some of its details, some of its hints, but I won't even pretend that these are the only or the most important details. Notice I haven't even explained why the girl on every package of Morton's salt is important enough to give the title to John Kuntz' newest play. There are some things it might be best for you to find out for yourselves.

===Anon. ( a k a larry stark )

"The Salt Girl" (5 - 22 November)
949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON MA
1 (617)353.5443

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