In this East Village playhouse production, Vienna, depicted by Elliot Morse, brings to light his episodic journey and expresses the ever-increasing stressful thoughts going on in his mind in a lyrical mashup that is disorienting and engrossing at the same time. The show begins with the women depicted by Mia Vallet and Rivers Duggan, standing on either side of the stage and putting a bowl on it. Morse then makes his way to the stage from the viewers and stands facing upstage in the bowl. He then goes on to remove his clothes and reveals a Caravaggio nakedness to the viewers. The two ladies pour water over Morse’s body and make his porcelain flesh a glistening sculpture. This is one of the most memorable moments of the East Village Playhouse production. While the performance has other highlights, it perhaps would do better with increased visual transcendence. Some painted signs to aid the viewers in exploring morse’s journey would have also been helpful.
This East Village Playhouse production is directed and adapted by Varda who is also a political nonconformist from communist Poland. Varda has a profound knowledge of the complicated source material of the production and is very effective in conjuring Moscow in the Soviet days in the bowels of the formerly politically fiery East Village. The production is efficiently kept to about sixty minutes, as much more could risk fatigue and repetition.
While Morse is at the center of most of the story, it is the two ladies who best embody dissonance and hysteria of the East Village Playhouse production, often making threatening faces and crackling. At the beginning of the performance, Morse’s wide-eyed de facto countenance is lacking in nuance. However, as the performance progresses, Morse’s act becomes better and better and makes the show a delight to watch. The East Village Playhouse Production’s inspiration from the original work of contemporary theater pioneers like Grotowski, Brecht, and Kantor is refreshing and evident throughout the production. European-style experimental theaters are not often seen in theater stages in New York. It is an exciting parlor game to ponder over what dissident work of literature Varda might grace the New York Stage with.
David J. Palmer’s lighting design is both simple and effective. So are the exciting costumes which feature red scarves that are draped in a manner that reminds you of Isadora Duncan or Stevie Nicks. The makeup depicts the two ladies in white thick Kabuki greasepaint. Scott Griffin’s music composition is also a major aspect of the production with an emotion-evoking saxophone tune that significantly complements the spare set. The blocking and props are also worth some applause since the amount of space available on stage for the play is relatively small but the actors bringing the East Village Playhouse production to life make great use of the space available. The detailed and elaborate production notes significantly contribute to the contextualization of the performance. They come in handy in depicting parallels between present-day America under the Trump administration, and Russia in the post-Stalin era. The text’s intentionally elliptical nature challenges one to conduct a thorough analysis. All Roads Lead to the Kursky station offers an immersive experience and is definitely worth your time especially if you are seeking a couple of hearty laughs, a touch of European experimental theater inspiration, and a heady catharsis