Robert Lockaby Staff Writer
An appealing cafe with modern-styled interior design, mixed with war propaganda and old horror films, such as Nosferatu, projecting on the wall, opened Eastern’s Theatre Department’s rendition of August Strindberg’s “To Damascus” with a weird, ominous tone that continued to spiral from there. There is a man with a forehead scar hitting on a woman, claiming that he is a poet. Meanwhile there is a man across the stage with the same scar who is writing down the events while sitting next to a similar looking woman. The poet and the woman then visit a twisted doctor with a mentally insane assistant and an incest-loving sister. These events inform the audience that this story will be an interesting one to watch unravel.
The Theatre Department found a way to knock this play out of the park, a seemingly tricky task to take on. The story is somewhat difficult to follow due to the fact that it has the audience walk around to different scenes that were placed throughout the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC). From what can be interpreted, the story is a poet going to seven “stations” on his “road to Damascus.” The show was filled with trippy color schemes, fourth wall breaks, and performances that kept the audience hooked until the very end.
The characters are all crazy, horrifying, relatable, and at times emotional. The members of the cast did a fantastic job of displaying the best of their acting range on the stage. It was also nice to have a reliable central character that is also trying to figure out what is going on along with the audience. The musical score was also well done. It did a great job transitioning into each scene and bringing out certain moods that should be felt. There was a mixture of rock and sad piano music that gave the play a modern edge.
The scenes were all very well executed, showing how much dedication and hard work each member contributed to the show. They were blocked and choreographed in a way that made it difficult to look away. The audience is even handed to further immerse them into the whorehouse scene with the characters. There were also times that the actors repeated lines in order to give off that trippy and weird tone that it seemed to be working to portray.
Overall, “To Damascus” was worth every minute of the experience due to its hidden meanings, weird way of storytelling, amazing performances, and effective musical score. It serves to entertain and disturb and it accomplished both simultaneously.