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      The Last Supper
    Familiarity breeds contempt

    Family tensions burst out in all their horrific glory as two brothers and their wives are thrown angrily together in the strongly written and intimately staged Swedish drama "The Last Supper."


    (For my article on Ed Schmidt's play "The Last Supper.")

    Here's an idea for a play: Members of a family have been storing up decades of unspoken resentment and fury, and when a family gathering forces them together one last time, the venom streams out in poisonous torrents. Perhaps you've seen plays very much like this in several of their repeated incarnations; and yet, as skillfully written and passionately acted as "The Last Supper" is, it's very much worth seeing again.

    Written by: Lars Nor始.
    Directed by: Zishan Ugurlu.
    Cast: Olle Ag四li, Ra貧a von Waldenburg, Dan Illian, Tullan Holmqvist, Dasha Koltanyuk.
    Music by: Paul Bothen, performed live by Jesper Lundaahl, Pete Drungle, Marie Howells, Dasha Koltonyuk.
    Set design by: Jeremy Morris.
    Costumes by: Kimberly Matella.
    in English.
    La Mama Experimental Theater
    74A East 4th St.
    Jan. 22 - Feb. 1, 2004

    A very committed Swedish cast (speaking perfect English) makes this Lars Noren play a nightmare to remember. A married couple comes wearily but lustily home, bantering playfully while pondering what to do with an urn full of ashes that they've brought with them.

    "Where do you want to put it?" asks Charlotte.

    "In the refrigerator," suggests John.

    "Your mother?" she laughs.

    These two are followed by John's less fashionable brother Alan and his tall, model-thin blonde wife Monica, and that's when the trouble starts. The two brothers seethe with resentment toward each other, and it soon becomes clear that both couples are on the outs as well. The two women share a bond of sisterhood — and, as it turns out, both of the men secretly covet giving their brothers' wives a tumble when the other isn't around — but otherwise there's nobody on the stage who doesn't have contempt for everybody else. The air in this living-room-sized theater is thick with rage — mixed explosively with free-ranging sexual desire that only intensifies the feelings.

    Ra貧a von Waldenburg as Charlotte has the meatiest role and attacks it all out. She and Olle Ag四li as John trade vicious barbs tinged with a sense of shocking humor.

    "Look at your hair!" he snarls at her. "The hair of an alcoholic!"

    There's not much way to answer that. But she soon gets her own digs in, as he threatens to divorce her. "Are you talking to me," she asks with a gesture toward the ashes, "or the lady in the urn?"

    This production crams us almost directly into the couple's living room, with seats added everywhere that isn't part of the set. (One of the cast actually grabbed me by the waist to maneuver past as she exited the stage.) The theater's intimacy gives us a sense of how little escape the characters have from this cauldron of domestic vitriol — we're right there with them. As their behavior and words spin ever more unpredictably out of control, we feel it as if it's happening at our house. The writing, set design by Jeremy Morris and acting all click and make this an extremely enjoyable human disaster.

    JANUARY 30, 2004

    Reader comments on The Last Supper:

  • last supper   from catherine, May 20, 2006
  • [no subject]   from Farkle McBride, May 6, 2009

  • Post a comment on "The Last Supper"