Puppeteer Theodora Skiptaires reimagines Ionesco's The Chairs
The ChairsLa MaMa ETC (74A East 4th Street, New York, NY) Map it $25
The promise of a better world is the premise of Ionesco's The Chairs, which ends in disappointment. In his play, an elderly couple set out chairs for an audience to listen to a world-changing pronouncement from an orator who turns out to be a deaf-mute. Director/Designer Theodora Skipitares re-imagines Ionesco's premise with the chairs themselves being the world changers, speaking their messages of hope and change. The absurdly lovely Chairs Only dinner party is hosted by Old Woman, a 10 foot puppet whose voice is provided by the Living Theatre's living legend Judith Malina. Each guest/chair is introduced by a video clip and wheeled onstage by its puppet operator. They are a mixture of the famous, notorious and beloved. Each one is given equal time stating his or her beliefs - and each chair is made with a great attention to detail. Ionesco, himself a chair with many tiny chairs, finds a friend in Gertrude Stein, now a work of art with her face mask centered on the seatback carved in Picasso's iconic image. The final guest chair (above) is a replica of Cathedral of Christ the Saviour's altar where Pussy Riot emerge to recreate their brave "Punk Prayer" demanding that Vladimir Putin take a seat far from the Motherland. The Chairs may sound like a throwback to the confrontational theatre Molina and her husband Julian Beck reveled in, but this is an uplifting commentary on a world that still has its share of heroes and heroines.