Saturday, July 14, 2012

KOMITAS at Atwater Village Theatre

Jesse Einstein, Gina Manziello
                                                                                                                  Photo by Kevin Mills

From time to time guests are invited to see a show that I may be unable to make time to see.  This is from
Guest Reviewer, Arpine Eloyan. Thank you, Arpine.

The story of Komitas is synonymous with and revered by Armenians all over the world.  His unique, all encompassing musical talents have made him a national icon.  
Revolutionizing Armenian music, he purified it from early Turkish influences.  His music has become a symbol of joy, sorrowful       perseverance and triumph for an entire nation.  In addition to his musical talents, he was also a poet, a philosopher, a teacher and a priest.  His inner struggles between his personal faith and church made him an unconventional hero.  Ultimately, “he was so traumatized by the 1915 Genocide that he spent the last 20 years of his life in an asylum in virtual silence.”
Komitas has said that life begins when sound is born and so with his familiar music playing in the background  the play begins  at the Circle X Theater in Atwater Village.
On a minimalistic but yet poignant set, Lilly Thomassian has demonstrated her craftsmanship of fine writing by presenting this very complex and challenging biographical play which tackles the many facets of Komitas’s intriguing life. 
Director Pavel Cerny has done a unique job in terms of creating scenes of make believe, fantasy and symbolism.  It’s hard to imagine the difficulty of creating a genocide march on a relatively small stage where one is able to visualize, feel and hear the stomps of the tens of thousands of the marchers who were about to be mass murdered on a remote island.  To accomplish a scene of this intensity with a limited amount of actors is touching, surreal and profound. 
Jesse Einstein, as Komitas, exudes a high level of energy, rhythm and dynamism keeping the audience’s attention from start to finish on his life’s journey.  The onstage chemistry between the Young Komitas, Arthur Parian, and his grandmother, Takui Akopyan, is dynamically refreshing, powerful and moving. 
Komitas is an interesting, engaging and emotional play that has all of the major elements of one man’s struggle within himself: his passions and choices vs. his destiny. Ultimately, Komitas's beliefs and convictions come to resolution; best expressed through his music with love.
By Lilly Thomassian
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles
July 14th through August 19th.