Uneventful Deaths for Agathon
nytheatre.com review by Komail Aijazuddin
August 15, 2006
Who exactly is Agathon? Why is there is dry kiddy pool on stage? Can globes be functioning mirror disco balls? Though left unanswered, these questions and more quickly fumble for attention in Uneventful Deaths for Agathon, a quasi-absurdist joy written and directed by Javierantonio Gonzalez. It is a refreshing, daring, and witty play that revolves around Ariel, an unsuccessful musician, and his relationships with his self-absorbed parents and exceedingly complicated wife, among many, many other things.
Gonzalez has cleverly woven into his play glittering threads of dramatic symbolism and cultural criticism. His unconventional characters interact in ways that are often disturbing and one can't help seeing them as personifications of concepts whirling in Ariel's world. The text is enticingly multifaceted and you'll enjoy scooping meaning into voids where there appears to be none.
His parents religiously sun bathe on the roof of their building, aspiring world travelers with not a journey to their name. His wife is a deeply complex and disturbed woman, whose bedtime games with her ex-lover involved sexually interpreting the political relations between two randomly selected countries (Venezuela vs. America led to a black eye). Seemingly arbitrary, the vignettes become Gonzalez's commentary on the postmodern, as if defying the audience to label the indefinable.
A playful balance between the revealed and the withheld keep the narrative intriguing without being confusing. Characters still grimy from the "real world," like Ariel's agent, make small appearances that tie abstraction to reality. The five actors are engaging and confident, though all remain nameless in the event literature. Three are on stage at the beginning of seating, silently interacting with a very self-conscious crowd awkwardly looking for seats. Coincidentally, women play both Ariel and his tough street-smart agent. These turns of action are examples of Gonzalez's musings manifested: ones that demand answers, but provide none.
The audience finds an ally in the narrator, whose teasers before every act seem as surprising to Ariel as they are informative to us. A judicious blend of modern dance and interpretive movements occasionally articulate what words cannot and balance deftly the line between drama and performance art. Pregnancy, incest, materialism, relationships, and more are treated with irreverence, humor, and sharply honed wit that manages to maintain a constant interrogation of modern values. An interrogation that ultimately proves silent, but not quiet.