Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Old-Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance)

                                    Karli Kadel for The New York Times
“Go to Berkeley make film, my friend” is one of the many throwaway lines in Richard Foreman’s Old-Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance) currently playing at The Public Theater. But it turns out that Berkeley is also a reference to Bishop Berkeley the Irish idealist philosopher who believed that all of reality was subjective and would vanish were it not for the existence of God. His famous line was esse est percipi, “to be is to be perceived” and it’s probably no concidence that Foreman’s protagonist is Samuel (Rocco Sisto) and that another Samuel, Samuel Beckett used that very line as the epigram for his Film. “Words I have been saying and words that been tumbling back and forth in my head,” is just one of the many Foreman lines that recall Beckett’s tortured Cartesianism. Foreman begins Old-Fashioned Prostitutes with his signature shining of the stage lights on the audience. Then there is the crashing of glass and the voice over announcing "end of play. "Aficionados of Foreman will recognize the ubiquitous arcana: the turn of the century military uniform, the ancient portraits, words and letters hanging in space, the dotted line crossing the stage, the light bulbs, sounds of voices which ring through the air like memories, the barbells, the cigarette holder and the marching band drum.  Gabriel Berry and Yael Lubetzsky are credited with costume and lighting design but the late Roger Shattuck, author of the famed book The Banquet Years: Origins of the Avant-Garde in France-1885 to World War I  could be given a posthumous credit for a set which resonates the legacy of the neo-Dadaism that infuses the current production.

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