Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Red Ash Mosaic
Cleveland Public Theatre
Review by Mark Horning


The Cast
Photo by Steve Wagner
In the early 1970s avant-garde theatre was the rage. Metaphysical phrases flowed like wine, and the wine flowed pretty strong back then as well (there may also have been some herbal enhancement involved in the creative process between the actors and the audience). It was a wild time of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and theater. For those wishing to relive the memories (i.e. flashbacks) of that bygone time without the drugs or nudity, there Cleveland Public Theatre's Red Ash Mosaic.

The first thing you will notice (if you have ever attended a CPT performance before) is that the stage area is completely different from anything tried there before. It is theater in the square, with somewhere in the vicinity of 100 seats. The stage floor is black, the walls surrounding the theater area are black, the risers and the seats are black, and all the props (a table and some chairs) are ... you guessed it ...black.

The setting is a video game store. While one regular customer is battling it out with "Black OPS Bagdad," another arrives asking for the newest offering and is given a copy of "The Book of the Dead." Being drawn to the other player, he leaves the "book" with the sales clerk and hooks up to play "Bagdad." A woman arrives wearing a black burqa and a black backpack and inquires about a game for her son. When given the price of $50 she walks through the store looking for something less expensive.

As the two seated warriors raise havoc on the video screen, another woman enters and drifts around the store with no apparent purpose in mind. A sudden tremendous storm arrives, and a hippie in army pants makes it to the store as the storm reaches its peak. As the inhabitants of the shop watch the storm they see a woman in the parking lot being struck by lightning after which she too enters the store. The first woman exits the store, leaving the backpack behind. This immediately raises the suspicion of the others, as they try to decide what to do and a power outage affects the lights, the phones, and worse yet, the video games.

At some point everyone looks as if they have died (they seem to take turns at it). There is a lot of stop-action movement, slow motion, flying through the air on wires, flying backpacks, snow, black petals ceremoniously tossed on a prone body, dancing, chanting, singing, shouting, recitation and screaming—all of which did not solve the mystery for me of what this show is about. It is the classic conundrum wrapped up in an enigma that CPT is famous for. The second act is a series of recitations and high flying antics.

This is not a show for children or even, I don't think, young adults. Leave them at home and it will save them bundles of money for future therapy sessions (they will thank you later). This is theater for those wishing for a taste of "trippy hippie" theater. Come for the ride and enjoy a healthy dose of way-out-there stage craft. Some will love it, and others will wonder what all the fuss is about. See the show and decide for yourself.

Cleveland Public Theatre’s production of Red Ash Mosaic, through June 17, 2017, at 6415 Detroit Ave. Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday at 7:30 p.m. For tickets go to www.cptonline.org or call (216) 631-2727 x501.

Cast:
Jacqueline: Faye Hargate
Toby: Adam Seeholzer
Artemis: Darius Stubbs
Abigail: Dionne D. Atchison
Omar: Raymond Bobgan Mebbie: Sarah Moore Iris: Holly Holsinger

Creative/Crew: Created by Raymond Bobgan and Cleveland Core Ensemble
Director and Scenic Design: Raymond Bobgan Composer and Sound Design: Matthew Ryals Costume Design: Holly Holsinger and Irene Mack-Shafer Lighting Design: Benjamin Gantose Dramaturg: Maura Krause Stage Manager: Colleen Mccaughey Assistant Stage Manager: Marissa Green


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