Philip French … Arye Gross
Willy Hardt … Frank Girardeau
Jane Zane … Laurie O’Brien
Esther French … Barbara Tarbuck
Ex-GI … Arye Gross
French woman … Dulcy Rogers
Housewife … Laurie O’Brien
Country woman … Barbara Tarbuck
“The Love Suicide
at Schofield Barracks”
Capt. Martin … Steven Barr
Col. Moore … John C. Slade
Miss Nomura … Jo Yang
Sgt. Major Ruggles … Michael McGuire
Lorna Bates … Laurie O’Brien
Sgt. Bates … Frank Girardeau
Lucy Lake … Barbara Tarbuck
C.O. … Ron Canada
Roundhouse … Jeff Corey
Romulus Linney is certainly the most underappreciated and underproduced playwright in America today. Thus it is a particular treat to see three of his one-acts in a nearly flawless production at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.
Director Harris Yulin and a superb group of actors capture the tone of each of these works, which ranges from quirkily humorous (“Juliet”) to melancholy (“Can Can”) to tragic (“The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks”). They also do full justice to Linney’s glorious language, which often approaches poetry in its beauty and precision.
While the plays deal with important subjects, they don’t have themes as such; each remains essentially enigmatic. Even “Love Suicide,” which is set in 1970 and deals with Vietnam, isn’t strictly an anti-war play, but raises deeper and more troubling questions about tolerance, responsibility and self-deception.
“Love Suicide,” by far the longest play of the evening, consists of an inquest into the ritual double suicide of an American army general and his wife. In a series of mesmerizing monologues, the couple’s friends and acquaintances give testimony about their thoughts and actions in the days preceding the grisly event.
This absorbing play has tremendous cumulative impact, as a portrait emerges of two people torn between society’s demands and their own inner natures. The most intense of the many strong performances is given by Michael McGuire as a blunt-spoken sergeant major.
“Juliet,” a decidedly offbeat comedy with overtones of Shakespeare, Ibsen and “Oedipus Rex,” concerns the relationships among a theater director, a producer, an actress and the director’s mother. Arye Gross and Laurie O’Brien shine as two self-consciously tormented artists who are living their self-created personas.
“Can Can” is a brief piece consisting of four interwoven monologues, which describe two unlikely love affairs. Timing is everything in this intricate piece , and this quartet of actors pull it off with great precision. For all three works, sets and lighting are minimal but effective.