Journeys Among the Dead

This weekend City Garage presents another production from the old space, “Journeys Among the Dead”” by Eugene Ionesco from 1999. And this week on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with Anthony Byrnes, critic, journalist, and theatermaker about what a post-Covid theatre scene might look like. It’s a wide-ranging discussion, touching on racial reckoning, political divisions in our country, and the confounding economics that drive much of what theater is done—and what is not. Here is a link to the talk show:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

And here is a little about “Journeys Among the Dead”

Directed by: Frédérique Michel

Production Design by: Charles A. Duncombe, Jr.
Produced by: Steven Pocock
Cast: Strawn Bovee, Jennifer Dion, Scott Donovan, Joel Drazner, Richard Grove, Patricia Raquel Lopez, Anna Pond, Valerie Ramirez, Bo Roberts, Paul Rubenstein

Backstage West

Review by Anne Louise Bannon

“It’s seldom that I run across something as difficult to describe as Journeys Among the Dead, Eugene Ionesco’s autobiographical last play. City Garage’s production, directed by Frederique Michel, is compelling, beautifully paced, nicely performed for the most part, and yet… How do you wrap words around what is essentially an old man’s dream journey to find his mother and confront the guilt and anger that has plagued him since childhood? Simple enough to say, but it doesn’t quite convey what seeing this play is like.

While this is an ensemble piece, it is held together by the old poet named Jean — essentially Ionesco. Richard Grove gives the old man a tenderness and sense of wonder not easily accomplished, since the emotional throughlines are seldom clear from the text. Grove’s work with the young Jean, Paul Rubenstein, is seamless. The two seem to have a single vision for the character and it works well. But Scott Donovan, as Jean’s father, occasionally falls a little flat. The rest of the ensemble holds up nicely, with some lovely performances by Stawn Bovee as Jean’s mother and Jean’s grandmother, Patricia Raquel Lopez as Jean’s stepmother, and Valerie Ramirez in her role as Violette.

Charles A. Duncombe Jr has outdone even himself with his lighting and particularly his sound design, pulling together sound effects and music that feed the production as a whole, as opposed to overpowering it, as so often happens. He also did the very simple but effective set.

Probably the highest achievement belongs to Michel. You have to assume that some of the bits and action were directed in, but it is really hard to tell what came from the script’s stage dircetions and what was Michel’s work. Michel is an extremely intellectual director, and her work serves this piece very well. Even better is the way she paces the play: one of the difficulties of Theatre of the Absurd is that it has the capacity to be relentlessly boring. Michel takes time where it’s warranted, but lets things run at a nice clip otherwise.

It’s not the easiest play on the planet to do well. City Garage has done it well.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, January 29, through noon on Friday, February 5th.

https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to our donor from this last week, Strawn Bovee.

Stay safe and wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

Here are some photos:

(Left to right) Richard Grove, Paul Rubenstein; photo Paul Rubenstein