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.
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.
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)
Thursdays-Saturday @ 8PM
Sundays @ 2pm
Tickets: 18 Previews, $25 General Admission
Reservations: call 960-7784
Or online at www.plays411.com/beat