This Week in Theater
Written by Tadeusz Różewicz
Review by Rose Desena
Every once in a while I see a show that I have an issue writing about – not because it was bad or good, but because as I sat in the theater I had to keep asking myself, “what the heck is going on here?”
The play I am speaking about here is White Marriage, the Odyssey’s current production, directed by founder and artistic director Ron Sossi. The writer, Tadeusz Rozewicz, is a Polish poet and playwright, well known for the absurd. This is no exception.
White Marriage is set in Eastern Europe in the early 20th century. A sex-crazed family prepares their frigid daughter Bianca for her wedding. Sounds normal, right? Oh, do I wish!
The fairytale-like poetic story is full of interesting but obscure characters. The cast includes a horny old grandfather (Mark Bramhall), a sexually amoral father (John Apicella), a cold, wet-noodle, uptight mother (Diana Cignoni), and Pauline (Emily Goss), the young obsessed nymph cousin of Bianca (Kate Dalton).
As the story progresses, Bianca is experiencing her body as it changes from a girl into a woman. She is to be married to a man she is not at all attracted to or understands. Bianca is tormented by hallucinations and explicit dreams, which, considering her family, make a lot of sense.
I can’t help but think Rozewicz was showing us what happens when we try to button down society, referring to the power of the Catholic Church in post-war Poland. Also there are some strong Freudian references, which only the master of the psyche or one of his disciples would really understand.
The production is sexually explicit and bizarre with some very phallic set pieces and props, but it worked well with the script. I found the writing mesmerizing. The whimsical stage set and the costumes create a magical experience that adds intrigue to the story.
Both Kate Dalton and Emily Goss are delightfully playful and really feed off each other’s characters like little hungry puppies. Goss is brilliant and believable as the innocent child who is a victim of the total craziness.
It was fun to see Beth Hogan, the long-time producer for the Odyssey, take the stage. Apparently, 35 years ago she was in a production of White Marriage, also directed by Sossi. In that production, she played the young girl instead of the aunt. Now that’s an interesting historical footnote. I am sure they had a good time with this production.
This is definitely not for everyone. If you like good story telling and poetry, then give it a go. However, keep in mind that there is nudity and that some of the props could be considered offensive.
Written by Tadeusz Różewicz
Translated by Adam Czerniawski
Directed by Ron Sossi
Cast: Starring John Apicella, Mark Bramhall, Diana Cignoni, Kate Dalton, Emily Goss, Beth Hogan, Steve Humphreys, Sarah Lyddan, Yulia Moiseenko, Sharon Powers, Austin Rogers
April 5 – May 25: Please check site for times and dates and tickets.
Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90025
(310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com