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Theater Shows
Malady of Death, The

A woman's nude form shifts between the sheets while a man circles the bed, contemplating.

centerstage reviewed this performanceReviewed by Centerstage!Go Chicago!

Venue:
Rooms Gallery
Cost:
$15 suggested donation, 2nd Friday opening $8

Author
Marguerite Duras

Company
ROOMS Productions

Styles

Related Info:
Official website

Performances
Runs June 13, 2008-June 28, 2008

Friday9 p.m.
Saturday9 p.m.

reviewed performanceCenterstage Show Review
Reviewer: Alicia Eler
Wednesday Jun 18, 2008

Clocking in at 5000 words, or 64 pages, Marguerite Duras' novella describes an erotic liaison as told in the second-person. Here's the deal: A woman spends several nights with a man; eventually, the man asks if the woman thinks anyone could love him, and she replies in the negative. Why? Because the "you," the man, suffers from the malady of death. Because the text itself sounds like a back-and-forth dialogue between the two characters, ROOMS Productions translates that to the stage.

Before going into the play itself, it's important to recognize the scene: Walking into the gallery-like corner space with its giant windows, guests encounter a large white bed covered in white sheets with a nude woman lying between them. The stage area, which is surrounded by small votive candles and lined with long streaks of sand, contains only the bed. A video projection of waves swishing over and over again plays throughout the show, suggesting a remote location. And on either side of this constructed stage sit a black-clad man and woman, who dictate the novella simultaneously.

The play functions more like a dramatic reading of the text, which is a little difficult for viewers who are used to faster-paced work to begin digesting. Not only do the readers keep the same tone throughout, but only occasionally does the brooding, pacing gentleman, speak. He reads directly from his copy of the book—not making any eye contact at all—thus killing any sort of possibly dramatic re-interpretation. The woman underneath the covers doesn't add to the sexiness of this play, unfortunately; her tossing and turning seems more like middle-of-the-night uneasiness than erotic movements.

It's not easy to interpret a text as serious, dark and sensual as this one. We just wish the actors could have been more creative with the actual reading; after about 30 minutes of the show, listening to the flat tone became exceedingly difficult.

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