Chris Mancini, Producer
Lynne Rosenberg and Vanessa Sparling, Associate Producers
A THOUGHT ABOUT RAYA
Performed and Created by HANNAH BOS and PAUL THUREEN
From the Writings of DANIIL KHARMS
The Red Room, March 25 – April 19, 2004
Directed by OLIVER BUTLER
Lighting Design SABRINA BRASWELL
Costume Design SYDNEY MARESCA
Sound Design CURTIS AUGUST
Stage Manager EMMY BEAN
In a delightful sixty minutes or so called A THOUGHT ABOUT RAYA, the inimitable spirit of the infamously avant-garde Daniil Kharms is brought to vibrant life in the intimate space of the East Village’s The Red Room. Making best use of the close quarters, and aided immeasurably by their own comic timing and Oliver Butler’s tight direction, the playwright-performance team of Paul Thureen and Hannah Bos give the impression that they are next in line to become the power duo to look for off-Broadway. Like an almost comic book version of Tracy and Hepburn reborn as a team built for a jaded generation plagued with cynicism and short attention spans, these two up and comers have ARRIVED! written all over themselves.
As to the matter at hand, A THOUGHT ABOUT RAYA, the average New York audience will surely find nothing shocking in the content of Kharms, who was considered crazy and even a danger to the Soviet state in the Leningrad of the 1920’s – 1940’s on the basis of his seemingly illogical, non-linear theater pieces. Times may have changed, but good sense about production values remains rather consistent. Luckily for the audience, the team behind RAYA is in tune with the spirit of the source material but also recognizes the reality of a modern era that does not sit still for long. As playwrights, Thureen and Bos know just when to end one moment, or really, one fable, and move on to the next. They are attuned to what repetition warrants inclusion, and ninety-nine percent of the time, they know how to construct a scene that feels just right. Paired with director Butler, who from all indications has masterfully led his exuberant performers from unbridled manic energy into succinctly, constructed stage business, there is nary a negative to be found here.
The meat of the matter of A THOUGHT ABOUT RAYA is a series of narrative fables, seemingly disparate, that are woven into one coherent experience. A man tries to write an original tale, to no avail. So many nosy, elderly women fall from windows, one after the next, that it becomes tedious. Left behind lovers write letters. Murderers defend themselves. Stories are told and retold. Things come together. The audience laughs, a lot, and leaves the theater smiling. Pulled apart, it sounds simple enough, but when attended, it is something a little bit special.
I enjoyed A THOUGHT ABOUT RAYA. I think it should be seen. I think it will make you laugh out loud. When you are done, you will realize that it also made you think.
- Kessa De Santis -