12 Ophelias: A Play with Broken Songs

By Caridad Svichophelia-1

Directed by Kate Hendrickson

At Trap Door Theatre

Bewildering theatre song-poem hard to come to grips with.

Trap Door Theatre loves to challenge tits audiences with obscure works that brake the norms of contemporary theatre. Their latest, 12 Ophelias: A Play With Broken Songs by Caridad Svich, is a strange and muddled work that almost defies description yet it entices.

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The press notes state:  “Shakespeare’s Ophelia rises up out of the water dreaming of Pop Tarts and other sweet things. She finds herself in a half-remembered land where Gertrude runs a brothel, Hamlet is called Rude Boy, and nothing is what it seems. In this mirrored world of word scraps and cold sex, Ophelia cuts a new path for herself.

Combining original music with poetic and colloquial language, 12 Ophelias is a theatre song-poem about being broken by society and love, being lost and finding yourself again.”

What I witnessed was five musicians (flute, violin, guitar, auto harp, washboard & ukulele) playing and singing an assortment of atonal and hauntingly subdued pop/folk songs depicting and underscoring the dark moods of the piece. The dialogue–a series of poems really contained vauge references to Ophelia (Mildred Marie Langford) and her abuse by Rude Boy (Kevin Lucero Less). There are demands by Gertrude (Joslyn Jones), commentary by R (Jen Ellison) and G (Casey Chapman) plus fights that turn into sexuality between Rude Boy and his pal H (Noah Durham). Songs speak to the action throughout this strangely intoxicating 90 minute one-act.

A water hole douses several of the players as the play mirrors a world of word scraps that lead to cold raw sex that Ophelia uses  to cut a new path in life for herself.  Raw emotions and vivid sensuality erupts once Ophelia rises from her watery grave to fulfill her carnal desires. She seeks out the boy who did her wrong. That oddity of a play  is as much about style and fantasy as it is an art piece about rebirth and revenge.

Mildred Marie Langford, as Ophelia and Kevin Lucero Less anchor the piece with their powerfully manic performances laced with sensuality and lust. the original songs, by Tonozzi and Chesley were, at best, forgettable.  The sheer emotional depth and theatricality of the play grabs us and holds us throughout. It is a work for lovers of obscure art pieces, not for the casual theatre patron.

Recommended

Tom Williams

At Trap Door theatre, 1655 W. Cortland Ave, Chicago, IL, call 773-384-0494, tickets $20 (2 for 1 Thursdays), www.trapdoortheatre.com, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission.