Beast On the Moon Theatre Review - A Survivors' Waltz at The Marilyn Monroe Theatre

"Beast on the Moon" is currently running at The Marilyn Monroe Theatre at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center in West Hollywood

Aram Tomasian (Zadran Wali), a young photographer in 1920s Milwaukee, has a new bride. He chose fifteen year old Seta (Olga Koustantulakis) from a pile of thirty or so photographs. Although the photo turned out not to be Seta, it should have been clear from her letters that Aram knew who he was getting.

Seta is spirited and stubborn, but grateful to have been rescued from the genocide in Turkey. Very much still a child in the way that she clings to the battered rag doll her mother gave her; Seta does know the Bible and the concept of obedience. But she knows little else about being a wife. So Aram needs to be patient with her; he believes she can be taught to be respectful, if not submissive.

Olga Koustantulakis (r) and Zadran Wali (l) in "Beast on the Moon"

Like Seta with her doll, Aram too displays the battle scars of his past out in the open. A framed picture of his lost family, faces all removed save one to represent his own, hangs morosely ion the dining room wall. It is a constant reminder of the family that sacrificed themselves for him. The picture is also a benchmark. Aram aspires to build a family that big and prosperous with Seta.

However, after almost a year, no child comes. Aram starts to blame Seta for being barren, Seta blames Aram for being distance. He does not allow Seta the right to express her pain, nor does he seem willing to share in his pain with her. The couple find themselves in what appears to be a loveless marriage between strangers. 

John cirigliano plays the Witness and young Vincent in "Beast on the Moon"

                                                         While Beast on the Moon is not a feel-good story, it is in fact a good production. To the causal observer, Beast On The moon could easily be dismissed as a circular exercise in suffering. The play does run a bit long, moving along in the speed of “life”, with no real plot elements driving the action forward. The reason to go see this show is the passionate and engrossing performances of Olga Koustantulakis and Zadran Wali. The actors in this show embue their roles with energy, humanity and a sense of immediacy that allow the audience to stay engaged.

Richard Kalinoski’s heartbreaking tale of two Armenian holocaust survivors is truly unique in the way it addresses love. Unlike most stories of lovers having found one another, Seta and Aram are strangers to each other, in a land that is strange to them, but their tenacity in the pursue of love is a matter of survival, not a matter of achieving emotional bliss or oneness. Yes, Aram did rescue Seta, but essentially, he bought her too.

Seta and Aram did not fall in love in a wave of hormonal lust. They did not experience the magic of becoming attracted to each other as they got to know each other. On the contrary, they have to “love” each other because they need each other to feel whole, human, alive.  The play poses an intriguing position:  how do a couple craft a marriage when the only thing you have in common is tragedy and loss. The paradox of this piece is the idea that each character is trying to save the other, but can’t.

Beast on the Moon is running now through October 17, 2010 at:

The Marilyn Monroe Theatre
at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center
7936 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(one block west of Fairfax)

Performances:
Thursdays-Saturday @ 8PM
Sundays @ 2pm

Tickets: 18 Previews, $25 General Admission

Reservations: call 960-7784
Or online at www.plays411.com/beat

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