Mad About It All

The charade proceeds with gusto. The initially reluctant commander whips up a fervent soap opera of the young reprobate's ruined old parents, the woman is persuaded, and a hilarious reversal occurs when Chee-Chee reenters the scene. Eric Grant is sinfully appealing as the handsome schemer, Gary Carlson greasily stolid as the Commander, and Nansi Aluika a comic gem as Nada, the spunkily indignant society girl. Stepnov adds some neat, whimsical touches: a teakettle becomes a telephone; a gentleman, clutching his bashed balls, emits a silent howl while an aria blasts his agony.

In the last play, The Man With a Flower in His Mouth, Leo Vilar, who so agilely plays the Pirandello figure, here represents a kind of artist also, if not the playwright himself. This man with the red flower accosts a traveler in a train station with seemingly harmless intent. Or is it? Mortally ill, he distracts himself, he says, by "clinging to the lives of strangers." Fastidious, excitable, intense, he describes the agonies of living in the imagination, obsessively observing all around him. The commuter, merely a sounding board, is not quite up to responding to the surprise twists. But the piece has its eloquent charms.

Marc Maron contemplates his navel in Jerusalem Syndrome.
Marc Maron contemplates his navel in Jerusalem Syndrome.


'Jerusalem Syndrome'
By Marc Maron
Nada 45 445
West 45th Street

'The Freak of Nature'
By Luigi Pirandello
Greenwich Village Center
219 Sullivan Street

Though Pirandello's dark visions make Marc Maron's aberrations seem almost like genial eccentricities, both pieces end with a flourish. "See?" they seem to be boasting. "We have, at the least, transformed our madness into art."

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