Fringe Review: lusthaus (1914)

Picture yourself in Europe just before WWI, then tear off multiple layers of your life. Lusthaus (1914) confronts love with haunting imagery. The music, lighting, and costumes put you in a Europe with hidden sexual fantasy, intensely woven into the use of movement. Josh Beshears, Katie Kershaw, Jen Spillane, and Michael Stone portray four individuals mixing lust and love with violence and anger in a challenging effort directed by Gabe Johnson. I was intrigued by this work. This type of work infuses story/plot conceptually, so those expecting simplicity will be better suited to stick to the lighter fare.

This work has almost a retro-experimental feel to it. The period costumes gave me the sense that I was in a Viennese playhouse of ill repute, one that specialized in stories of debauchery, at least as would be considered debauchery in 1914. Think of a playwright premiering a work that is shown only to trusted friends, for fear of being jailed.

A subtext that got to me were each character’s haunting eyes. Sickly haunting eyes to be more precise. It is as if each character is dead or near death. 1914 and WWI did kill off the ways of Royal Europe, where the Victorian Era morals ruled, and Kings/Queens made them up as went.

The audience for this production was a complete sell out, with people both sitting in the aisles and standing in the back. There are two more shows, June 7th at PM and June 9th at 8:30. Both shows are at InkTank.

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