nytheatre.com review by Amy Lee Pearsall
August 11, 2013
A scene from The Spider
Children can be cruel when faced with what they don’t understand. Playground taunts, however, pale in comparison to that special brand cruelty of which members of our own families are sometimes capable. Love, manipulation, and intimate familial connection – physical and otherwise – are just some of the subjects explored in B+ Company’s powerful production of The Spider, currently showing at the Celebration of Whimsy (COW) Theatre as part of the New York International Fringe Festival.
Adult siblings Martin (Penko Gospodinov) and Martha (Anastassia Liutova) celebrate a final birthday together as conjoined twins before the surgery scheduled to separate them. Finally able to make this choice for freedom after the recent death of their controlling mother, Martha is desperate for independence. Martin, however, is having second thoughts on the subject of liberation and its cost, and is determined to convince Martha to reconsider.
Serving as both scenic and costume designer, Iskra Petkova anchors the set with a white claw foot bath tub complete with water and bubbles. On either side of the vessel, there are wooden end tables with bath towels. Waterlogged props and costume pieces are occasionally pulled from the bathtub. Martin dons a rubber bathing cap and black swim trunks; Martha wears a black bikini bottom. A big, fluffy white robe built for two comes on and off as the twins repeatedly make their way in and out of the bath.
The 60-minute one-act is performed in Bulgarian with English subtitles projected upon the upstage wall. (I might suggest that the slide that reads “This play not recommended for persons under 18” could better serve the audience by being shown before the play has begun.) As written and directed by Dimitar Dimitrov and Yordan Slaveykov, the production takes a decided bend toward the existential and abstract. Original music composed by Alexander Kalanov and Yordan Borisov lends to this feeling with a repetitious, downward progression of strings in a minor key.
As predators and prey in equal measure, Gospodinov and Liutova each offer strong, nuanced performances as two people wrestling with fears, desires, survival, sacrifice, and what it really means to love someone. Humorous and thought-provoking, The Spider artfully captivates it audience before devastation, and should be required viewing for anyone attending FringeNYC this year.