WEEKEND THEATER REVIEW: DOGG’S HAMLET, CAHOOT’S MACBETH

Joyce Kulhawik November 18, 2011 0

WHISTLER IN THE DARK THEATRE“Dominoes, et dominoes, et dominoes Popsies historical axle-grease, exacts bubbly fins crock lavender…” Say what? It’s a line from Tom Stoppard’s DOGG’S HAMLET,  CAHOOT’S MACBETH.  Familiar plays– but definitely strange in the hands of Tom Stoppard, who’s reinterpreted them by inventing a new language! WHISTLER IN THE DARK THEATRE has mounted a spare, sure-handed production of this tricky work with a young vibrant cast– and this is your last weekend to see it!

You’ll find yourself seated– almost among the actors — in a dark cube of a theater, the BCA’s Plaza Black Box. Suddenly the doors pop open and we find three students getting ready to put on a play– HAMLET–only we’re the ones who are about to be caught. You see, these kids only speak DOGG– English words — but with totally different meanings!  When a delivery man shows up trying to communicate in the King’s English, we enter a world of syntactical hijinks. This is not easy to pull off, but in director Meg Taintor’s confident hands we are happy to go along for the ride, and are guided to a new understanding of Stoppard’s intentions. Words divorced from their traditional meanings are like free-floating electrons sparking a new language that the actors on stage create in order to communicate.

In the second play, CAHOOT’S MACBETH, Stoppard makes us aware of language’s darker sphere of influence. The same actors put on a secret performance of Shakespeare’s tragedy–but this time when an officer of the state breaks in and threatens prison, it’s clear that language can indeed be dangerous– and a weapon of resistance.  By the end of the evening, we may actually understand DOGG ourselves!   The playwright has thrown a light on the nature of language itself– and has more than a bit of fun at our expense. Whistler in the Dark has pulled off a small coup –an accomplished, challenging, witty night at the theater. “Suppurating kidney” (words of congratulations in Dogg) — I think they’ve got it!

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