Thank you Alexander Dinelaris for writing such a moving, powerful, heart wrenching, heartbreaking and completely heartfelt play. Thank you to the New York Theatre Workshop for producing RED DOG HOWLS. And thank you to director Ken Rus Schmoll for his beautiful and sensitive staging and for casting a trio of superb actors – Alfredo Narciso, Florencia Lozano and Kathleen Chalfant who is giving what could be considered the best performance of her illustrious career.
There is nothing like an extraordinary play to rekindle ones belief in theatre. That theatre can be enlightening and meaningful. There are certain productions that take you completely by surprise and make you realize the power that theatre holds. Seeing RED DOG HOWLS is one of those instances.
The sound of a melancholy violin starts us off on a journey of Armenian history along with Michael Kiriakos (Alfredo Narciso), a thirty four year old writer married to Gabriella (Florencia Lozano) of Italian descent who is pregnant with their first child, attempting to deal with his absences to visit with his newly found grandmother and the resulting tensions at home.
Michael will speak to us directly many times from the three acting areas nicely designed by Marsha Ginsberg during the ninety minutes it takes to reveal a secret. A secret that has to do with a pile of letters, nine to be exact, that he discovered after his father had died with instructions not to read them.
Granting his father his last request he doesn’t but follows up on the address on those letters which brings him face to face with his ninety one year old grandmother – a tough, determined, physically and mentally strong and altogether sensible Rose Afratian (Kathleen Chalfant) who has suffered through the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
It takes a while for them to get to know one another and longer still for her to divulge the information that her grandson has come seeking.
RED DOG HOWLS is expertly written. The story. The structure. The words. The choice of words. The play on words. Their delivery. The intelligence. The humor. The repartee. All make for a most riveting theatrical experience. One that you will not soon forget.
And then, the last monologue delivered by Rose – after months of nourishing Michael to strengthen him for what he must do – will have you at the edge of your seat, silence permeating the theatre, the sole sounds coming from Rose that will completely drain you emotionally.
The only other thing you need to know about RED DOG HOWLS is that you must see it. No matter what.
www.NYTW.org Photo: Joan Marcus
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