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The Raft of the Medusa

Autor: Joe Pintauro

Infos zum Theaterstück:
Datum Aufführung: 1991-1992
Stadt: New York City
Theater: Minetta Lane Theatre
Infos zu diesem Bericht:
Quelle: Website der New York Times
Autor: Mel Gussow
Veröffentlicht am: 23. Dez. 19910

Kritik zum Stück von Mel Gussow:
In Théodore Géricault's painting "The Raft of the Medusa" survivors of a shipwreck cling to a raft that is crowded with those who are dead or dying. The painting is an apt metaphor for those who have been struck by AIDS. The difference, as expressed in Joe Pintauro's play "Raft of the Medusa," is that the survivors will also succumb.
The play, which opened last night at the Minetta Lane Theater, is a comprehensive examination of the effects of AIDS on a cross section of the urban population and how the less sick become the caretakers of those who are in more imminent jeopardy.

Because of the author's slice-of-life approach and his shorthand techniques of characterization, "Raft of the Medusa" has its manipulative aspects. It does not have the direct emotional impact of works like "The Normal Heart" and "As Is." In trying to do too much in too little time, it veers into sermonizing. But the play is informative and has its primary value as an instrument of social awareness about AIDS issues.

In the opening scene, one victim dies and in an evocation of the Gericault painting, the patient's hospital bed is carried off the stage as if it were a boat capsized in a storm. In the succeeding 90 minutes, we encounter a dozen people in a P.W.A., or People With AIDS, group-therapy session led by a psychiatrist (Steven Keats). The members of the group contracted AIDS in a diversity of ways; they include heterosexuals who are outraged that they have been infected

Das Gemälde "The Raft of the Medusa"

Zum Vergrößern anklicken:

with what they consider to be exclusively a gay disease.

Under the direction of Sal Trapani, the session is heated. Charges are followed by countercharges, as people bare their bitterness and their fright, if not their souls, as announced in the play. Not all the characters are able to clarify themselves, but with the help of the actors many of them achieve an immediacy on stage.

This is the case with Robert Alexander as a sweet-tempered model whose brain has been assaulted by illness; Annie Corley as a heterosexual fired with resentment at what she thinks of as her entrapment; Reggie Montgomery, who more than most is able to relate to the problems of others, and Brenda Denmark as a deaf drug addict whose family has been decimated. Ms. Denmark's character speaks to the psychiatrist through sign language. The play is at its most effective with characters like these, when Mr. Pintauro allows them to unveil themselves through their actions.

At one point, a wealthy newcomer to the group reluctantly admits to his illness and then announces that he plans to go to Amsterdam to seek euthanasia. The mention of foreign flight sets the others off into wistful dreams and songs, of travels remembered and others never to be taken. As one song overlaps another, the music becomes louder and more cacophonous, rising like waves against a sinking ship.

The desperation in that singing, the need to confront the fact that each of the people in the play will have a drastically curtailed life momentarily lifts the work to a more resonant plane. "Raft of the Medusa" becomes a microcosmic crisis clinic, airing aspects of a tragedy and entreating the audience into an act of empathy.

Directed by Sal Trapani
Scenery by Phillip Baldwin
Production stage manager: Marjorie Horne
Presented by Peggy Hill Rosenkranz

WITH: Robert Alexander, Annie Corley, Brenda Denmark, William Fichtner, Dan Futterman, Robert Jimenez, Steven Keats, David Louden, Bruce McCarty, Reggie Montgomery, Patrick Quinn, Abigael Sanders and Cliff Weissman.

Ein kurzer Auszug aus einer anderen Kritik:
Veröffentlicht am: 05.01.1992

[... ] Ninety minutes in length, Mr. Pintauro's play shows us the weekly meeting of a support group for PWA's (Persons With AIDS), conducted by a shrink named Jerry (Steven Keats) and attended, this particular week, by 11 PWA's from various social classes. Some are straight, some homosexual; some have adjusted to their plight, others seethe with anger. One, Nairobi (Brenda Denmark), a black drug addict, fulminates in sign language.
They sit on folding chairs in a semicircle facing the audience at the Minetta Lane Theater. Except for a few quick flashbacks -- and a dreamlike coda -- the turbulent meeting is the play. Mostly, the characters vent their emotions on one another and shoot down one another's lies. A famous actor (William Fichtner), new to the group, claims he's just there to do research for a role, but he's not allowed to maintain the fiction for long. Suspicions lie heavily on a journalist (Bruce McCarty), who may simply be pretending to have AIDS in order to tape-record the meeting and sell the revelations to the tabloids. Nairobi, armed with the syringes of her addiction, has her ways of ascertaining the truth. [...]

Infos zu dem Gemälde:
Es wurde 1819 vom Franzosen Théodore Géricault gemalt, ist 471x716 cm groß und hängt aktuell im Louvre in Paris. Der Originaltitel ist "Le radeau de la Méduse" (Englischer Titel: "The Raft of the Medusa", Dt. Titel: "Das Floß der Medusa"). Die "Medusa" war ein Segelschiff, das Schiffbruch erlitten hat. Auf einer zum Floß umfunktionierten Holzwand treiben nun einige Überlebende und Tote im Meer umher.

Weitere Infos zum Bild:ß_der_Medusa_(Gemälde)
Infos zum Maler:éodore_Géricault