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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The Rogue stuns Tucson again with By the Bog of Cats

    I find myself seated in The Rogue’s tiny blackbox theatre, silently staring and analyzing the set for the Irish play “By the Bog of Cats” written by Marina Carr. The set is nothing extraordinary; it’s brown and barren with prosaic bog-like platforms, whose eerie and arid tone stand complementary to the tragedy of the “Medea” adaptation.

    With the ghost of Medea running through the script, the play centers around a gypsy woman named Hester Swane whose traveling and loose nature is rejected by everyone around her. Her ex-lover Carthage, with whom she has a daughter, has recently rejected her for a larger dowry. As a result, she must leave the only home she’s ever known—a tiny caravan on the bog of Cats. On top of this, Hester is told by a Ghost Fancier, a soul-collecting spirit, that she will die today.
    I expect to bawl my eyes out.

    My focus is pulled from the set and onto Jake Sorgen—the musical director who is seated house left, playing soulful but yet downright jiggy tunes on his guitar. Samantha Bounkeua skillfully and quite delicately accompanies him on the violin.

    As the house manager prepares to thank patrons and donors, I search my bag for my notebook in order to take notes of the performance—because that’s what writers and reviewers do, right? I pull out my notebook and shift uncomfortably in my seat and prepare myself for everything that is about to unfold. I tell myself I can do this.

    I realize I forgot a pen. The lights in the house begin to dim.

    I frantically search my purse. I have lipstick. Can I take notes for my first column in NARS Cruella shade? It is technically a lip pencil. I see an usher with a pen and think to ask her for it. The older women to my left give me dirty looks. Out of nowhere, I realize I stole a York Peppermint Patty from the front desk without donation.

    And then, Marissa Garcia claimed the stage and subsequently for two and a half hours, I am not thinking of notes or reviews or (mint) thievery. Instead, I am completely hypnotized by a story of hate, love, passion, obsession, redemption (or the lack thereof) and, in a way, pragmatic mindsets that we maintain in order to justify destruction of ourselves and others. Garcia embodies Hester with every fiber of her being. From her impressively natural Irish dialect, to her malleable and versatile physical life, she became a lowly gypsy woman with a childhood stunted from the mother that abandoned her.

    While the character of Hester is difficult to sympathize with, she is akin to Medea, after all—Marissa’s ability to full-heartedly commit to her needs and desires compelled me to want to engage in her story as much as she does. There was not a moment in which I could look away.

    A large cast of equally incredible actors accompanies her. Patty Gallagher, for example, managed to make the vicious Mrs. Kilbride a joy to watch despite the character’s inability to recognize her grandiosely gross nature. David Greenwood gave a powerful example of the strength in stillness—only choosing severe reactions when his character Xavier Cassidy finds his land threatened. And Ryan Parker Knox, whose character Carthage rejected Hester for a larger source of income and traditional marital life, provided a window into a conflicted and grieving man through nuance and clarity.

    I sat in my seat for several minutes following curtain, overwhelmed with the power of the performance and unsure of the steps to take next. All I know is this: The Rogue provided a riveting piece of theater that touched upon dark depths of the human condition and a pen for notes was completely unnecessary.

    I collect my things and scattered wits off the floor and leave that catharsis behind me.

    But not before snagging another peppermint patty.


    Follow Cera Naccarato on Twitter.


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