Brown/Trinity’s ‘Tango’ is frightening allegory
Once again the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA students have taken on a difficult, mind-boggling play, turning it into a tour de force that will challenge your thoughts and senses.
Polish playwright Slawomir Mrozek’s “Tango” is a dark, often funny, often disturbing look at power through the eyes of what we now call a “dysfunctional family.”
The bohemian rebels are living a carefree life of freedom where anything goes, including a young guest sleeping with his host’s wife. Enter Arthur, the youngest son (Will Austin) who is determined to get the situation under control.
Probably meant as a metaphor for Poland after World War II, when Stalin was in power, the play concentrates on the clashes between anarchy and controlling power and is still very much relevant today.
Mrozek has created some bizarre characters, including a senile grandmother, confused father and mother, conniving uncle and sexually free young lady.
Tilly Grimes’ set is lined on three sides with chairs for the audience, who are made to feel like they are part of the large room where all the action takes place.
The play begins with a narrator describing the characters, the set, the clothing and the circumstances. Strangely, the author describes Eddie, the controlling guest, as fat and slovenly, but Charlie Thurston is anything but.
Arthur is disgusted with what has happened to his family and sets out to change things, aided by a kiss-butt uncle. He proposes marriage to Ala in a long scene at the end of the first act, promising to use the event as the beginning of complete change.
Act II begins with the attempt to “clean up” the family and its surroundings in preparation for the wedding ceremony.
Things get pretty heavy in an allegorical sense, leading to a struggle for power, resistance to change, and a final violent struggle that ends in chaos and death, as two characters dance the tango.
It is a dark, strange play, filled with cryptic moments, surprises and absurdity. Lovers of challenging, thought-provoking theatre should relish it. As always, the MFA students, both on stage and behind the scenes, show incredible talent.
Tickets are only $12, $6 for students and seniors. Performances are through May 13 at the Pell Chafee Performance Center, 87 Empire St, around the block from Trinity. Call 351-4242 for reservations. Limited seating.