nytheatre.com review by Frank Kuzler
Eastwest, written and directed
by Mark Bazzone, is an absurdist take on war, the mechanics of battle,
and the driving force behind most armed conflict—land. The play starts
as two warring sides watch each other from across no man's land, each
waiting to attack while trying to demoralize and out-strategize the
August 15, 2003
Quickly, the show establishes a world of absurd violence as General aims and fires his arse across the battlefield at Troop, who stares through binoculars reacting with proper disgust—retching and vomiting shredded documents. During this scene, Troop's Commander, while trying to point out the enemy to Troop, who sees only baby chicks and cherry trees in the field, utters my favorite line of the play: "beyond that past the serenity see the enemy." This line sums up much of what the play successfully conveys about mankind's ability to overlook the beauty of the land for the brutality of possessing it. Throughout the play, through various means, the characters reiterate the theme, "why wage war... to take back what is ours."
The stunted and staccato language beats out each action like a march; the set design pitting two sides staring offstage in opposite directions establishes the sense of a vast land divided at the centerline by bunkers of piled newspaper, the fuel of ongoing negative sentiment; the blocking convinces us of the long and stealthy advance of each side. The relationship between Todd Woodward (Troop) and Derek Argobright (Commander) is particularly strong; Julie Plumettaz gives General a formidable air of pomposity, striking a balance that allows both ridicule and understanding; and David Sangalli (Soldier) presents a complete image of the common soldier—disciplined, cowardly, and courageous.
All in all, Eastwest makes its absurd view of war real and recognizable, which only reinforces its themes.