Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Frozen

I just saw Frozen, an intelligent investigation of the nature of evil and how we must respond to it, done by ART. Keith Scales was particularly fine. I'd not seen him act before, and this gentle little guy can fill the stage with menace and pathos more economically and intelligently than any other Portland actor, possibly. He performs few histrionics. Karen Trumbo was more satisfying to me here than in other roles I've seen her in, but she does push too much (that said, I'd rather see her push than lock up, which she more commonly does, throwing away the warmth and sex appeal that she has in person--in her 'street persona--after getting on stage.) Linda Williams Janke was looser than she was in DEATH OF A SALESMAN. Randy Patterson doesn't get to say anything, which is too bad. He can do a knockout midlands accent, if he does say so himself. I would like to see Randy take fuller control of a couple obvious physical habits, which distract me a hair.

The minimal set worked for me, too. Blue, sterile, frozen, while the characters are warm, alive, wriggling. Is it just me, or is Allen Nause a 'warmer' director than John Kretzu?

Update: Frozen is an intelligent discussion about the nature of evil, but, are the terms of debate in it outmoded? Whether to look at evil in medical or moral terms is no longer at issue for us because 1) by now it's clear that moral choice can influence medical facts as readily as medical facts can determine moral choice (behavior influences genetics;) 2) moral choice is not only an INDIVIDUAL matter--i.e., the quality of 'good' or 'evil' is not necessarily an attribute of any given individual 'self' (a metaphysical and hypothetical entity)--but of actions (as this play makes clear, we can excuse the evil doer for the causes that impel him but we cannot excuse the evil.) That is, evil exists as an inescapable condition of human life. So, is it fruitless to ask whether any given individual is, in his nature, "evil;" which would be to ask whether we can 'cure' him or her of it?

....Hmn. I see now that this play is smarter than I thought.


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