War, then hell
A soldier accused of war crimes is unexpectedly saved from execution only to be delivered into a life of torment at the hands of a mysterious woman in the powerfully written and superbly acted Bosnia-inspired play "The Monument."
By JOSHUA TANZER
When we first see Stetko, he is chained to a pole. First of all, he didn't choose to be a soldier,
and second, he doesn't remember all the things he's been accused of. This is how it is in Bosnia:
You're just a teenager when you're forced to pick up a gun and join the army, forced to rape, forced to kill.
Any sign of weakness or reluctance can get you killed by your own men. The war ends and suddenly
the rules change and you're chained to a pole, awaiting execution for what they now call war crimes.
You might almost feel some compassion for this chained man. You might, but not the mysterious woman who enters at the end of his monologue. "You still think you're a good person," she tells him, "a good dog who just had a bad owner." She offers him a deal: she'll save him from execution if he will come with her and do everything she tells him for the rest of his life. With a contemptuous woman making him an offer like this, there has to be a catch; Stetko doesn't know what it is but he has no other choice. He accepts.
|Written by: Colleen Wagner.|
Directed by: Marie-Louise Miller.
Cast: Tom Sibbitt, Ann Ducati, Genna Brocone, Michelle Borth.
Related links: Official site
This is the setting in which the rest of the story plays out. I don't have to disclose what else happens to point out that the characters both find themselves in provocatively complicated positions. The woman, Mejra, could simply have let the object of her hatred die and been done with it, but she has chosen to tie his life to hers forever. Why? Does she want to torture him or redeem him? Will she go on hating him or will she grow to understand him? As for Stetko he still sees himself as an ordinary kid who got caught up in a difficult situation. Will he come to terms with the atrocities he's accused of or continue to deny them? Can he ever put aside the war and go back to his ordinary life or will he always be seen as a monster?
Playwright Colleen Wagner, inspired by the war in Bosnia and its violent aftermath, has done a masterful job of dramatizing these issues. Even the end of the play resists easy answers but enlightens us about the state of mind in that country divided by hatred and atrocity. Tom Sibbitt is excellent as Stetko, the strapping man who thinks he's a boy, and Ann Ducati is also strong and mysterious in the role of Mejra. The play is both intelligent and emotionally intense from beginning to end, one of the best few plays in the Fringe Festival.
|AUGUST 23, 2000|
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