note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Heleni Thayre
What an absolute treat: David Mamet's "The Shawl" as interpreted by director Lilia Levitina and her talented set (Valentina Komolova) and music (Emily Romm) designers and a three person cast (Will Cabell, Dassia Posner, and Paul Barrett). It is like entering a colorful world of toys and dolls come to life, a surrealist children's book for adults.
As the theatre goes dark, music sweeps through the void, swirling, gallumping, mysterious, somehow European. When the lights come up again, a man in an embroidered green magician's cloak is riding a stationary bicycle and juggling crocheted bean-bags as he expounds philosophy to a strange girl with lilac satin shoes and bright red heart-shaped lips. We begin a journey in and out of fantasy, magic, insight, charlatanry, cynicism, greed, abusiveness, confusion, counseling and understanding as one ambiguity gives way to another. The tale is always compelling and the movable set imaginative and wonderful.
In correspondence with the ever-changing psychological reality is the changing visual picture. The stage is like a box filled with one-of-a-kind oddments from someone's attic or basement, intriguing furniture with splashes of color manipulated in unexpected ways. The costumes and mime-like episodes give hints of Marcel Marceau. Off and on there is more music, as transporting as the first selection.
This is a theatrical experience for all the senses --- or it would be if the marajuana being puffed smelled like the real stuff (but what is one tiny disappointment in such a satisfying evening?) The audiences are already beginning to overflow the intimate venue of the Leland Theatre. Make an effort to be among them.