Categories

The Mark of Cain ~ Synetic Theatre

Jordan Wright
July 21, 2017 

Ryan Sellers (Cain), Philip Fletcher (God) ~ Photographer: Johnny Shryock

Ryan Sellers (Cain), Philip Fletcher (God) ~ Photographer: Johnny Shryock

In his apocalyptic vision of the end of the world Georgian-born Director and Adaptor Paata Tsikurishvili offers up a slo-mo intro to the birth of Evil.  In it he provides God (Philip Fletcher) with a large mobile Modernist statue with serpentine arms from whence to rule his kingdom.  This Tree of Knowledge representation is where Adam (Scott Brown) and Eve (Tori Bertocci) meet their fate in the Garden of Eden.

Synetic has long been a theatrical vehicle for the interpretation of world politics and has consistently sought out ways to parallel their productions to the ills of modern society.  Describing his inspiration for The Mark of Cain with Machiavelli’s immortal words, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  We see this popping up everywhere,” he adds suggestively.  Tsikurishvili’s latest fantasy after a five-year dry spell, reads like a graphic novel of the world’s ills.

In committing their original sin, the doomed couple bite into the shiny red apple symbolized by a balloon in a cage.  We see God’s tears begin to fall from white balloon “eyes” encased in a pyramid – like the eyes on the U. S. dollar – and backlit by flashlights.  There will be many more balloon symbols indicating sadness, death and destruction.  It’s an awkward device at best, but you’ll get the drift.

Ryan Sellers (Cain), Dallas Tolentino (Abel) ~ Photographer: Johnny Shryock

Ryan Sellers (Cain), Dallas Tolentino (Abel) ~ Photographer: Johnny Shryock

Our jeans-clad lovers soon encounter the Dark Angel (Kathy Gordon) and her minions before running off to give birth to their twins, Cain (Ryan Sellers) and Abel (Dallas Tolentino).  This colorless Garden of Eden may augur the evils to come, but it seems an unnecessarily grim setting for paradise.  Abel is the sensitive one of the two, representing Culture and the Arts – playing stringed instruments woven from strips of white fabric.  Cain is the penultimate destroyer, torturing the dancers that frolic to Abel’s music.  More balloon eyes “cry” and a death is symbolized by the popping of a red balloon filled with red dust.  We will come to see this again and again as it depicts Death symbolized by black balloons.  After Cain kills off his entire family and appears to briefly mourn their loss, the use of dancers carrying helium filled black balloons is yet again employed while God marks Cain for life with red powder, a device used to symbolize blood, anger and/or defeat.

Kathy Gordon (Dark Angel), Ryan Sellers (Cain) ~ Photographer: Johnny Shryock

Kathy Gordon (Dark Angel), Ryan Sellers (Cain) ~ Photographer: Johnny Shryock

When the Dark Angel again returns she anoints Cain with a wreath of golden laurel leaves.  As his conquests mount ever more elaborate “crowns” serve to describe the level of power that Cain has achieved.  In a banquet scene in which all the guests wear crowns, they kill each other off in a dramatic fight scene.  Some inexplicably return to march to Music Director Irakli Kavsadze’s choice of Ravel’s “Bolero” as Cain becomes power mad and the wars increasingly militaristic.  The music is perfectly timed to mirror the staccato sounds of machine guns.  At this point we have transitioned into modern day warfare and thankfully there are no balloons to distract from this electrifying scene.

Tori Bertocci (Ensemble), Ryan Sellers (Cain), Megan Khaziran (Ensemble) Photographer: Johnny Shryock

Tori Bertocci (Ensemble), Ryan Sellers (Cain), Megan Khaziran (Ensemble) Photographer: Johnny Shryock

I don’t want to be the spoiler, but let’s just say Cain appears as Trump in elongated red tie and aviator sunglasses spewing executive orders and looking noticeably smug.  You don’t want to know what miseries he has in mind to wreak upon the world at large.  As with Synetic’s famous “Silent Shakespeare” series, this play is wordless which is hardly noticeable for the wealth of dance expression choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili, the fierce battle scenes by Vato Tsikurishvili, and the use of electronica composed by Konstantine Lortkipanidze.  Trust me.  You’ll get the picture.

Through August 13th at Synetic Theater, 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington in Crystal City.  For tickets and information call 1 800 494-8497 or visit www.synetictheater.org.

Comments are closed.