By Fay and Michael Kanin
Directed by Mike Marinaccio
Starring Roger Floyd, Ryan Gigliotti, and Selena Ayumi Bass
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL
Whenever my right wing friends start lecturing me on “truth” I think of good old Pontius Pilot – even Christ himself could not or would not answer “what is truth?” The trial of bandit Tajômaru (Floyd) supposedly reveled the truth, but in the aftermath three men meet under the Rashomon Gate in a rainstorm to discuss the results. The Woodcutter (Terrence Yip) found the body, and was called to testify along with a priest (Viet Nguyen) who met the murdered samurai (Gigliotti) and his wife just before the murder. And here’s the rub – while there’s no question about the body’s identity, the how and why of his demise depends on your point of view. The details are unimportant outside the story, but needless to say each storyteller casts themselves in the best light possible.
What is important is the presentation – three’s humor in this tale of murder and deceit, and some fine acting. The center revolves around Tajômaru and Mr. Floyd plays him with a rough roguish quality – he’s the bandit men fear and women love, and it has nothing to with thievery and murder. Gigliotti performs with a scowl worthy of a kabuki mask, and the Wife (Bass) is at least as conniving as Tajômaru even if she isn’t the swordsman he is. Backing them up on a simple yet impressive set (by William Elliot) we find a cynical and snarky Wigmaker (Tommy Keesling), the calm, pacific priest (Viet Nguyen) and the weaseley woodcutter. Each carves out a personal space – the Priest is sadden by his own loss of faith in humanity, the Wigmaker avoids losing his cynicism, and only the woodcutter reveals the truth of humanity – no one is pure, but some folks occasionally do the right thing even if it’s not required.
The parallels to the Anthony trial are obvious – we have a body, we have a story or seven, and we have a pathological obsession with answering the question Pilate asked. And just like him we are unlikely to ever have a satisfactory answer, but we will wake up tomorrow and find a new question to ask. And we probably won’t find that answer either, but as long as we aren’t the corpse in question, things will be good enough for us to soldier on through the day.
For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com