Upstream Theater, Kranzberg Art Center

Grand Avenue at Olive Street, St. Louis


Runs February 9-11, 15-18, 22-25, 2018

Reviewed by Joan Leyden

A curiously passive, middle-aged man is discovered seated onstage in an isolation unit. A blast of sound; the space brightens; a raw, red glare illuminates the periphery of this rectangular unit. Enter a masked nurse; she gives the man a shot; he jolts into action, half-rising, then collapsing into himself like a badly strung puppet, finally staggering upright. What has she given him – a memory restorative? We’ll never know.

He has a lot to tell us, this power-driven wreck of a man. Once a broker, sometimes a drunk, he even had a wife and daughter. We gather this from erratic spurts interjected in his main story of what it meant to him to be a broker. In a downward spiral of often delusional and constricting images, he offers us his appalling philosophy of greed and power and human worth. At the end of his 85-minute monologue, he falls prostrate upon the floor, a product of societal greed and his own complicity. The returning nurse prods him slightly on the back and he rises, restored?

In this basically unsympathetic role known only in the program as “a trader in quarantine,” Alan Knoll gives a flawless performance, mesmerizing in his emotional and physical choices, and in the variety he has found in the experiences of this driven, manic soul.

This harsh play with its tragic-comic inferences is the work of one of Germany’s outstanding poet/playwrights, Albert Ostermaier. As translated by Philip Boehm and directed by Patrick Siler, the evening offers what we have come to expect at the Upstream – intellectual stimulation, perceptive directing, and imaginative scenic interpretation. Patrick Huber’s coldly forbidding setting, Geordy van Es’s austere lighting, and Michele Siler’s realistic costuming successfully suggest the aridity of the broker’s interior life. Added to this as another level of enrichment is David A. N. Jackson’s “soundscape,’ which provides surprising aural exclamation points to the script.

Visitors to this page: 
Website Builder