A Polish Experiment

REVIEW by Willard Manus

Joanna Klass is Polish theatre's best friend in Los Angeles. She has for fifteen years been instrumental in bringing Polish theatre companies to this city and/or translating the works of leading Polish playwrights. Her production of Moscow-Pyetushki at The Odyssey was hailed critically in 1997, and Ferdydurke at City Garage in 2000 won a Fringe First at the
Edinburgh Festival.

Now Klass, joined by her Polish-American son, Voychek Szaszor, has mounted SKETCHES FROM THE MEMORY OF BRUNO SCHULZ, "a site specific play on words, art, and all kinds of material re-creation re-collected for a facto-fictional museum of living architecture in one and a half act."

We are in the country of the Polish avant-garde here and it is quite a strange but intriguing place. Based on the texts of three of Poland's leading 20th century writers, Bruno Schulz (1892-1942), Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (1885-1939) and Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), SKETCHES examines their creative theories, practices, relationships and hallucinations. The setting is a salon (in real life, a backroom at the Warszawa Restaurant in Santa Monica). A seven-person cast portrays these and other Polish and
European artists (and their wives, mistresses and muses), with a narrator (Alex Tondowski) playing interlocutor.

Surrealism, existentialism and the Theatre of the Absurd were all influenced by the work of these bold, quintessentially European artists. Just as they
championed each other's work, Klass has become their champion in southern California. SKETCHES is very much a work in progress, but no serious theatregoer should miss it.

Call (310) 407-0414 for tickets and information, or visit www.Arden2.org