Absurdism, or as playwright Joseph White chooses to label his brief plays Sandra and Salvador Rosa “oxy-moronic”, is a hard theater genre to get right. The layering of meaning and futility beneath facades of outrageous circumstances and over-the-top characters requires a solid grasp of theatrical rules and a lot of chutzpah to break out of what we take to be reality.White, an extremely talented and prolific Modernist painter, stepped out from behind his canvas to explore some zany scenarios over the course of these two plays written between 1970 and 1980. What could happen if bus stop benches could express their opinions about the people that sit on them each day, or what if a showering woman could dictate the actions of the world around her?
The minimalistic set contained in the intimate black-box theater gives off a sense of Mondrian-like simplicity. A sparse but whimsical playground on which to behold some entertaining, if not irreverent, theater.
Sandra and Salvador Rosa
Closes September 29, 2013
Theatre du Jour at
District of Columbia Arts Center
2438 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
1 hour with 1 intermission
Friday thru Sunday
Details and Tickets
The ten actors come from a variety of backgrounds including mixed media painting, poetry, music, and physical theater. Perhaps such a diverse range of talents could cause a lack of shared vocabulary between the artists, or maybe the production had a truncated rehearsal period, but everyone just seemed a beat off or a skip behind.
Unfortunately the two plays together, running approximately 45 minutes each, came off more as an exercise in a clash of artistic elements than theatrical experimentation. What seemed most out of synch were the actors and their direction.
Director B. Stanley has definitely taken a big artistic risk by not only bringing in two plays by a painter, but also producing a show that requires a much larger cast than what Theatre Du Jour normally works with. But risk-taking seems right in this company’s wheelhouse. If experimental theater isn’t your game, then this isn’t the first date show for you and that cute coworker from your office. But if it is, or if you’ve always had an inkling to try absurdist theater and you have an hour to spare, then jump right in to this off-beat and odd production by Theatre Du Jour at the DC Arts Center.
Sandra and Salvador Rosa by Joseph White . Directed by B. Stanley . Produced by Theatre du Jour . Reviewed by Michael R. Kelly.