Updated: 8/16/15; 18:43:41

pedantic nuthatch
Life in a Northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. B.M.A.T.C., and Etruscan typewriter erasers. Blogged by David Gorsline.

Wednesday, 7 April 2004

Homebody/Kabul, by Tony Kushner, directed by John Vreeke, Theater J & Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington

Such a torrent of words to wash over us! Such a polymath spate of untranslated Pashtun, Dari, French, and Esperanto, and yet all is understandable. Such a river of wailing, of keening.

The opening scene of the play, a 58-minute monologue by a 40ish Englishwoman, the Homebody, is mastered by Brigid Cleary. The Homebody recalls Harper Pitt: she follows the pattern of Kushner's pixilated heroines prone to hallucination. In a stunning rant within the monologue, she gives voice to an Afghan merchant who epitomizes his ruined country:

Look, look at my country, look at my Kabul, my city, what is left of my city? The streets are as bare as the mountains now... the people who ruined my hand were right to do so, they were wrong to do so, my hand is most certainly ruined, you will never understand...

The Homebody disappears to Afghanistan and the scene shifts from London to Kabul in 1998, where her family are seeking her. While her husband Milton Ceiling (well-played by Rick Foucheux) rarely stirs from his hotel room, her daughter Priscilla finds a Tajik guide, Khwaja Aziz Mondanabosh, portrayed with sly dignity by Doug Brown. The Ceilings eventually return to London with something more than they left with, and something less.

Colin K. Bills mounts lighting instruments on the floor so that much of director Vreeke's inventive action can take place lying, sprawling, kneeling on the deck.

The play takes us on a trip, but refuses to lay out tidy lessons for us. We're left a little adrift, wandering down a ruined street.

In April, 2002, Kushner wrote in an afterword to the play as published in book form:

If lines in Homebody/Kabul seem "eerily prescient"... we ought to consider that the information required to foresee, long before 9/11, at least the broad outline of serious trouble ahead was so abundant and easy of access that even a playright could avail himself of it...

posted: 7:56:52 PM  

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