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February 01, 1991 - Image 62

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-02-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Mr. Anderson thinks the
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fable. There are many inter-
pretations."
Teibele contains "so many
messages," says Ms. Urosev,
"so many truths and lies. It's
like a maze — like wearing
many masks. It's like live
poetry."

Treibele and Her Demon

will run through Feb. 17. For
ticket information, _call the
Attic Theater, 875-8284. ❑

Teibele Works,
But Has Some Flaws

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Continued from preceding page

0.
0..

ric M. Johnson's set for
the Attic Theatre's pro-
duction of Teibele and
Her Demon may remind you
of a psychedelic record album
cover from the 1960s. The
backdrop and several side
flats are deep shades of blue,
from turquoise to indigo,
decorated with various occult
symbols. Among these are a
bright red, upside-down,
female devil and what ap-
pears to be a Chasidic Jew in
a yellow rocket ship.
- Apart from a well at one
side and a small platform
with a bed and table at center
stage, this doesn't seem to be
the 19th century Polish shtetl
of the play by Isaac Bashevis
Singer and Eve Friedman.
Director Blair Vaughn
Anderson and his designer
clearly wish to emphasize the
nightmarish, mystical quali-
ty of Mr. Singer's fable about
a beautiful abandoned wife
who is tricked into having sex
with a nebbishy neighbor.
What we miss, though, is the
dreariness of Frampol, the
town which Teibele calls "a
desert." It's one of several
choices that undermine this
well-intentioned production.
The lonely Teibele is op-
pressed by the drabness of her
life. Her only pleasure is to
study demonology — a sort of
19th century forerunner of
National Enquirer stories.
But Alchonon, a scholar of
the occult, has secretly
desired her for years. One
night he hears her talking to
her friend Genendel about
demons; later he enters her
house disguised as Hurmizah,
a demon, and ravishes her.
Mirjana Urosev brings out
Teibele's sexuality and stub-
bornness, the one drawing
her into an obsessive relation-
ship with the demon, the
other preventing her from
seeing Alchonon's merits. She
also finds the comedy in

Edward Karam is a freelance
critic in Ann Arbor.

Teibele, who is aroused as
much by Hurmizah's stories
of lust on the dark side as by
his bedroom manner.
"They betray you?" she
kvetches about her demon's
wives. "Why do you stay with
them?"
As the hapless Alchonon,
Wayne David Parker shows
the character's bottled-up in-
tensity and pain. Early on,
listening to his friend, the
peddler Menasha, talk about
women he's seduced, Mr.
Parker's whole body seems to
be tensed with secret, unre-
quited love. When Teibele
tells Hurmizah what a
schlemiel Alchonon is, Mr.
Parker captures the humor of
the situation as well as
Alchonon's anger and pain.

Mysticsm battles
reality in this Attic
production.

According to Jewish law,
Teibele can't remarry unless
her husband divorces her or is
proven dead. Eventually
Alchonon wants her love as
well as her body, so Hurmizah
tells Teibele that she must
marry Alchonon: it is
ordained.
The story becomes Faustian
as both Teibele and Alchonon
surrender their souls to
satisfy their lust.
Unfortunately, we never get
a sense of that hell-bent lust.
Mr. Parker and Ms. Urosev
moan a good deal under Ken-
dall Smith's superb, at-
mospheric lighting, but the
production is strangely
chaste. Mr. Parker never even
takes off his shirt.
The script is a strange mix
of tragedy, comedy and lyrical
language, but director Ander-
son has his surest grip on the
comedy. He's devised acroba-
tics for Alchonon/Hurmizah,
who leaps and somersaults
around Teibele's bedroom. It's
right for Alchonon initially,
but it soon feels. like routine
slapstick.
A scene in which Teibele
has arranged a threesome
with Menasha and her friend

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