Tag Archives: Washington DC

“The Man in the Iron Mask” by Alexandre Dumas, adapted for staged by Ben and Peter Cunis.

I attended this performance at Synetic Theater in Washington, DC, on June 9, 2016.

As usual, I came to the theater ready to give myself over to whatever was put before me – minimal expectations coupled with willing suspension of disbelief. Give me illusion! I’ll buy in. My other predisposition was to like the show because my nephew (stage name Will Hayes) was performing. So… I walked in with a positive attitude, and I was not disappointed! In fact, I was completely delighted.

The Man in the Iron Mask is pure adventure drama. Good guys, bad guys, intrigue and plenty of action.

Synetic Theater falls into the category of “physical theater”, which I never heard of before. It has a Wikipedia entry, so I guess it really exists… Synetic has produced plays without dialog, most recently a version of Romeo and Juliet. I wish I had seen that!

“Physical theater” (according to Wikipedia) is characterized by story telling that involves physical communication, like dance, stage fighting, gestures or mime. The Man in the Iron Mask featured the first two, along with a “normal” amount of dialog. The dance scenes were beautifully lush, and the stage fighting was the best I’ve ever seen. For sheer energy, this production can’t be topped.

For those not familiar with the novels of Dumas, the plot of The Man in the Iron Mask comes from the end of his Three Musketeers trilogy. The four heroes have drifted apart, one to farming, another to religion, and so forth. Reunited in Paris, they plot to take King Louis XIV from his throne, for the good of the French nation.

Too bad The Man in the Iron Mask will run for just a few more days. But Synetic has an ambitious program scheduled for next year (starting with Dante’s Inferno and ending with Carmen – Bizet is not mentioned) and Washington is not so far away.

A African novel, an American novel…

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu, 2007.

Public debate surrounding immigration is even more heated now than it was in 2007 when this book was published. Mengestu personalizes the immigration “issue”. The narrator is from Ethiopia, and his best friends are from Kenya and Congo. They share a history of violent dislocation.

Stephanos, the narrator, owns a struggling store in a struggling Washington DC neighborhood. A woman moves in and renovates a large, once elegant house, and change imposes itself on the community. Stephanos and the woman are mutually attracted, but somehow keep “missing” each other. Loneliness is the theme of this book.

This is a well written book. I feel like I got to know some people I’m might otherwise not have encountered.

The book seems to also have another title, Children of the Revolution. I found this out from Amazon.com, when I looked to see what else Mengestu wrote. A second book, How to Read the Air, was published in 2010. I hope he keeps writing.