A Cut-Throat Marriage
Low budget, short-staffed and a small venue would make some directors feel handicapped. However, Mark Borkawski, playwright/director of “The Mutilation of Saint Barbara” took these things and made them work to his advantage in this unique and creative play. The small space added to a sense of intimacy, bringing the audience into the world of an average couple who are struggling with their marriage.
The play opens up with a couple in their forties, who have just arrived at their apartment after spending a day at the museum. From the first few minutes of the play, you can tell that there is an underlined tension between Polly, [Gina Bonati] and her husband Vince [Michael Halliday]. The tension thickens until it finally snaps and the audience is revealed at an uncommon argument. Polly is furious that when going to the museum Vince got an erection form a painting called The Mutilation of Saint Barbara. The picture is of a saint who was being tortured by men who were cutting off her breasts. Vince tries to explain that the woman was beautiful and was above what was done to her because she had a look of peace on her face. Polly is disgusted with him. She feels that he embraced her when he tried to feel her up in public because of his arousal over the painting. Vince doesn’t see the problem because they have had sex in public before and that is when Polly reveals that all those times were traumatic for her.
The heated argument goes on to reveal that they have more problems than just this particular instance. More of their issues come into the light until it boils over to a climactic end.
The concept of the play is like nothing that has ever been made before. The originality was refreshing to watch and put a new twist on relationship issues. Their argument over Vince’s arousal over the brutal painting was so unexpected that it had the audience bursting with laughter at the ridiculous concept. Borkawski did an amazing at presenting an everyday couple and making it interesting to watch.
Bonati’s portrayal of a woman who is no longer happy in her marriage was nothing short of brilliant. From her sarcastic retorts that had the audience howling with laughter to her cold and frustrating demeanor and making the audience want to shake her, Bonati was full with contradictions that were acted out perfectly.
Halliday was similarly successful with his performance of a husband who loves his wife but cant seem to reach a level of communication in which they can resolve their issues. Halliday was able to act out this role in a believable way in an unbelievable situation. His was not an easy role, a man aroused by a gruesome image, but he did so easily and in a way which many accomplished actors would not be able to replicate.
As a result, the production is eerily worthwhile. It incorporates modern day problems that couples experience and provides it in a new and interesting package that will have you clutching at your seats.