Fri, Mar 07, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Devilish drama takes to the stage

By Vico Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

A scene from Devil's Valley.

PHOTO: VICO LEE, TAIPEI TIMES

Drama Theater (劇樂部) has positioned itself as an event organizer, hosting several theater festivals in the past couple of years including the critically acclaimed Japanese Theater Festival and Young Talent Arts Festival. The group has now returned to the stage now with Devil's Valley (惡魔之谷), its 18th production.

As in I Have Evil Thoughts About You (我對你有壞念頭), Drama's last performance, Devil's Valley, disposes of all dialogue in order to focus on body language as the main form of expression on stage.

With the help of flute and violin soloists who perform classical numbers to accompany the piece, including Astor Piazzolla's poignant tango tunes, the performance is quite expressive emotionally.

The seven episodes in Devil's Valley center on the final hours in the life of a male college student. The tragedy leads the audience through his struggles with his repressed desires until his fatal despair.

One of the best performed episodes is the student protagonist's reverie before hanging himself. He finds himself in a dreamland where he meets a fairy-like girl who bares a striking resemblance to his younger sister. As if finally given a good chance to indulge in his long-held incestuous desires, he approaches the girl, carries out on her the almost sadistic fantasies he had about his sister, and is surprised to find no resistance on her part. However, this throws him into a deep despair.

The young man then dreams of his other long-time fantasy -- killing his father -- but gets no satisfaction from this either. The only way out now, he realizes, is for him to kill himself.

Hsieh Chi-wen (謝其文), script-writer and director of Devil's Valley, contributed its tragic theme to the present situation of the alternative theater in Taiwan. The protagonist's repeated attempts and failures to satisfy his desires, Hsieh said, was a picture of the struggles by alternative theater groups in the thick of the current economic gloom. Their efforts to feed themselves through staging their productions only plunge them deeper into the economic abyss.

Devil's Valley could use more comic relief. Fortunately, all its elements, especially the flute performance, combine to present an enjoyable show.

Devil's Valley will be performed at Crown Theater (皇冠小劇場), located at 50, Lane 120 Tunhua N. Rd., Taipei (台北市敦化北路12050) at 7:30pm tonight, tomorrow and Sunday. A matinee performance will be held at 2:30pm tomorrow and Sunday. Tickets are NT$300 and available at Acer ticketing outlets or by faxing Drama Theater at (02) 3365-1898.

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