Quantum Theatre keeps its production of 'Pantagleize' moving, funny
Two popular sayings kept running through my head during “Pantagleize”: The Beatles' lyric “You say you want a revolution?” and the cautionary warning, “Be careful what you wish for, for surely it shall be yours.”
Quantum Theatre's bitterly funny production, which is playing inside a vacant office space in Point Breeze, is a fresh and free adaptation of Michel de Ghelderode's 1931 play “Pantagleize.”
If you were a student or fan of theater in the '60s and early '70s you most likely encountered de Ghelderode's original as an example of European expressionism that was then all the rage.
When read today, de Ghelderode's text feels stodgy and leaden with big fat blocks of text and some embarrassing racial stereotyping. But its messages remain persistent and timely.
Fortunately for theatergoers, Jay Ball has adapted the work for contemporary audiences in collaboration with Jed Allen Harris, who directed the Quantum Theatre production.
In a fast, witty and insightful one hour and 45 minutes, the play explores the politics and perils of revolutions brought about by people who act on impulse with no thought for consequences.
After a silent and suspicious airport control officer issues you a ticket, you enter Ball and Harris' world through an unoccupied encampment not unlike those that protesters set up during Occupy Wall Street or the Arab Spring. You then proceed to the actual performance space that could be an abandoned office space or the arrivals area of an airport somewhere in Eastern Europe in a time that could be contemporary or mid-1960s.
The action begins as Pantagleize (that's pronounced Pant-a-glaze), a marginally successful American poet, arrives to be the honored guest or king of the country's spring festival.
Lacking any knowledge about the country he's visiting, Pantagleize unwittingly turns the festival's revelers into revolutionaries. Euphoria, brutal repercussions and regrets follow swiftly.
Harris directs a first-rate cast of 10 with speed and subtlety.
Randy Kovitz does a masterful job as the self-absorbed but benignly intentioned Pantagleize, creating havoc in a situation for which he has no understanding.
Also impressive is Lisa Ann Goldsmith as the fiercely fearless revolutionary Rachel. She's a strong, but ultimately vulnerable opponent for Tony Bingham's Presidente, the country's manipulative despot.
Bingham's Presidente is at his best during a Skype session when seeking advice from four high-profile fellow tyrants such as Argentina's Augusto Pinochet and Uganda's Idi Amin. Bingham plays the quartet of despots on video recordings with which he interacts in real time as Presidente.
Abdiel Vivancos and Sam Turich also give interesting performances as the revolutionaries Baboosh and Pest, as does Weston Blakesley as Presidente's henchman Krip.
The time period of the play's world is not always clear. It shifts without warning between present day and a mid-60s era when Beat poet Allen Ginsberg actually went to Czechoslovakia on the eve of revolution there.
That's most likely intentional.
As Kovitz's Pantagleize points out in a final reading of his poetry, the issues and problems raised in this tale defy the boundaries of nations, time periods and good, but reckless, intentions.
Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins GM details Malkin, Hornqvist injuries, offseason priorities
- Woman fired for failing to take drug test sues Pittsburgh Housing Authority
- Rossi: Steelers should corner the market at NFL Draft
- Plum High School teacher hires attorney who also represents Jerry Sandusky
- U.S. Steel job cuts total 2,800, CEO says
- Photo gallery: Steelers 1st-round draft picks
- Most talent in NFL Draft play at Steelers’ positions of need
- Supreme Court hears historic same-sex marriage arguments
- Jeannette man jailed on armed robbery charge
- National Guard called in to keep the peace in Baltimore
- Arnold, New Kensington drug busts net 2 arrests, heroin, cocaine, cash