Friday, November 1, 2002

‘Crave’ delivers intense
message on love and loss

By John Berger

Director Taurie Kinoshita doesn't do conventional theater. Her production of "Crave," by the late Sarah Kane, at Ernst Lab Theatre is thus a departure for her.

Kane, who committed suicide in 1999, wrote "Crave" as a complex, surrealistic statement about the ever-shifting nature of love, loss and desire. "Crave" represents challenging contemporary theater at its best and is likely to be too intense for mainstream audiences.

Four characters identified only by letters speak of love and loss almost simultaneously. "M" (Kathy Hunter) clutches an empty bird cage and talks about wanting to have a baby. "B" (Chris Garre) sprawls untidily at the other end of the stage, drinking, smoking and shooting drugs in an attempt to end his life without committing suicide. "A" (Blake Kushi), who is blindfolded and occasionally fondles a tailor's dress form, describes himself as a pedophile. "C" (Danel Verdugo) recalls "the first time I faked not having an orgasm."

"Only love can save me, but love has destroyed me" may be the theme of the quartet's ruminations on their desires, fears and memories.

As the four deliver clues as to who's who, a darker story unfolds. Girl (Mariko Neubauer), who lies on the stage wearing only a simple white slip, is silently brutalized by two men -- Lover (Brent Reynolds) and Father (Hank West). The abuse becomes more explicit and Girl is eventually raped.

Fight choreographer Christine Hauptman's staging of the rapes and other violence drives home the soul-curdling ugliness of sexual abuse.

Neubauer's commitment to having physically demanding scenes performed nude underscores the character's vulnerability to a degree that would be impossible otherwise, and succeeds in making "Crave" the most effective statement against sexual violence ever presented in the Lab Theatre or the Kennedy Theatre Mainstage.

"Crave": Repeats 11 p.m. today and tomorrow at Ernst Lab Theatre, UH. Tickets $7; $6 for seniors, military, UH faculty and non-UH students; $3 for UH students. A discussion takes place 5 p.m. Monday in the Substage.

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