In production notes, director Paul Zimet uses the word “genius” to describe the writing of British author John Berger. For that, Berger should be grateful. For the clumsy adaptation Zimet presents in “Lilac and Flag,” the author is considerably less indebted.
A follow-up to “The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol,” an earlier, more successful Zimet adaptation of Berger, “Lilac and Flag” is a love story that strives for mythic resonance. It misses.
The titled lovers are Flag (Earl Atchak), an aimless young man working a go-nowhere construction job to make escape money for himself and go-nowhere girlfriend Lilac (Marta Ann Lastufka). Through bits of pseudo-poetic doggerel spouted by Lilac, audience infers that the duo longs to flee Troy, an EveryCity that offers no hope to its disaffected young.
Their meandering story takes the couple through initial meeting (Flag is selling coffee outside the prison where Lilac has just visited her boyfriend) to death and beyond. Through a series of impressionistic vignettes, the couple interacts with Lilac’s drug-dealing brother (William Badgett) and various sadistic policeman. The multicultural casting and lack of geographic references could be designed to give the story a fable’s universality; instead, play comes off antsy and confused.
Acting is bland, at best (Atchak as Flag). As the street dealer, Badgett would be right at home on “Starsky and Hutch,” while Tina Shepard gives an annoyingly mannered, frog-voiced performance as the narrator. Worst, though, is Lastufka’s crucial miscasting as Lilac, a character whose earthiness is misinterpreted as vulgarity. The character makes Tonya Harding seem like a Vanderbilt.
Production is a collaboration between the musically inclined Talking Band (a chorus provides abreathy vocal “soundscape” that contributes nil) and Alaska’s Perseverance Theater. “Lilac and Flag” won’t enhance the reps of either.