MILWAUKEE - “Beast on the
Moon” by Wisconsin playwright Richard Kalinoski has an impressive history.
It’s won many awards and
has been translated into 12 languages. It was produced in 1995 by the Milwaukee
Chamber Theatre, where Mary McDonald Kerr, who is now directing the show at the
In Tandem Theatre, played the role of Seta.
Robert Spencer, Michael
Cotey and Grace DeWolff spin the story of three displaced survivors who try to
rebuild their lives after the trauma of war and the anguish of loss. The story
is set in Milwaukee in 1921 and covers the next decade. A 15-year-old Armenian
orphan has been rescued from an orphanage by a 19-year-old photographer, also an
Armenian, who is looking for a bride. He has paid for her passage to America and
looks forward to starting a family.
Over the course of the next
decade, we watch two strangers trying to negotiate a marriage with their very
different personalities and philosophies. Two more characters, both played by
Spencer, are a young and an older Vincent, one serving as a narrator and another
as a young orphan befriended by the young bride, Seta.
Rick Rasmussen’s sparse,
orderly set serves the story well. Eleanor Cotey’s costuming also nicely
reflects the time frame, as well as the changes in the character of Seta as she
transmigrates from an elfish young girl into a confident, competent, stylish
young woman. DeWolff is a spellbinder as Seta, as she figures out ways to avoid
being dominated by her rigid husband, Aram. As a photographer, he preserves the
past but is unable to take on the future. He is paralyzed by his own history and
his preconceived notions of how his life should unfold. Cotey is impressive as a
tortured soul who uses most of his energies trying to control something or
someone. Unfortunately for him, Seta will not fit the mold that Aram has
fashioned for her.
“Beast on the Moon” is
decidedly gritty as some of the horrors of the Turkish-Armenian war are recalled
and relived by Aram and Seta, but there is also enough humor to lighten the
suffering. The story touches the universal as we witness the kinds of
adjustments inherent in all close relationships. We can connect on some level to
all the characters, even though most of us have never suffered or witnessed what
these characters have endured.
Sensitively directed by Kerr
and beautifully rendered by three gifted actors, “Beast on the Moon” is
definitely worth the trip to In Tandem.
“Beast on the Moon” runs
through March 24 at In Tandem Theatre, 628 N. 10th St., Milwaukee. Call
414-271-1371 for show times and tickets or visit www.intandemtheatre.org.