November 3 — November 19, 2000
Written for City Garage by Charles A. Duncombe Jr.
Directed by: Frédérique Michel
Production Design by: Charles A. Duncombe, Jr.
Cast: Jonathan Cobb, David Frank, Lejla Hadzimuratovic, Jonathan Liebhold, Freddy Nager, Stephen Pocock, Bo Roberts, Paul Rubenstein, Eric Talon
November 17, 2000
Review by Lovell Estell III
Towards the close of Charles Duncombe’s harrowing ensemble piece about human-rights abuses by Russian soldiers in Chechnya, a young man asks incredulously, “It’s not really possible for people to act like that, is it?” The answer is self-evident but far from simple, and rooted in paradox. One by one, director Frederique Michel’s cast of steely-eyed, parlous young men – some bare-chested and sporting tattoos – recounts nightmarish acts of murder, rape and torture committed against men, women and children. Some speak as if seeking absolution or to assuage tormented consciences, while others glibly justify these acts by war’s brutal logic or as necessary acts of vengeance for atrocities perpetrated by the enemy. Interwoven throughout is a poignant story about a young woman (Lejla Hadzimuratovic) seeking news of her brother fighting in Chechnya. That we never fully or satisfactorily fathom what makes these men (and others like them) tick is understandable; that we find judging them difficult is what makes the play thought-provoking. Duncombe’s incorporation of factual material into his script helps render the production all the more jarring.