scene from White Embers at Dramalabbet
TOP 3 for Best Plays - For the touching and powerful way of telling a story that addresses global terrorism and international adoptions through close-ups on people's personal dramas
Svenska Dagbladet – 18 January 2009
Dark scan of human flaws
Author: Lars Ring
translated by Raluca Mihu
Dramalabbet is enlarging its views. The group still stages only new plays – but nowadays also foreign ones. Last fall they successfully played White Embers, written by Romanian Saviana Stănescu.
Besides, this weekend the theatre hosted a guest performance with the play Waxing West by the same playwright: a production of the legendary avangarde group La MaMa from New York, who, 48 years after their first bold staging, continues to deliver high class performances.
Waxing West is the story of Romanian Daniela whose job is to wax – that is to remove the black, rough hair that destroys a perfect surface, reminding of the beast within ourselves, but also of nature and its laws. Death, for instance. The year is 1989 and dictator Ceausescu has just been removed and executed.
Everything is a chaos, people are robbing one another and public goods. The former president turns into a vampire who comments on the course of events, the past and all new economic powers. Daniela’s mother gets a letter from a rich American woman who needs a homehelp and a wife for her son.
„To go, or not to go”, Daniela wonders, but eventually she leaves for the dream of welfare and orderliness. Once there she realizes she is just a merchandise among others, but at least she doesn’t starve.
The USA proves to be a country of sexual frustration. The man she is about to marry is dull and only gets excited when he pretends he’s a turkey tied in ropes, ready to be cooked – an extraordinary Sam Shepard-like image of the American fixation for symbols and national identity.
The man is an IT specialist and sees the world as a gigantic computer game played by angels. We people are mere characters within a system where the individual lacks free will – we are toys for insensitive guds.
Waxing West is a dark play with steady conotations of humour, gastronomy and sexuality. Stănescu, who also moved to New York, criticizes the western restlessness and alienation as well as the new Romania where everyting is for sale. She turns Daniela into the member of a new slave species – a woman functioning as an ash-tray, forced to feed on the filth pouring off western welfare. Stănescu skillfully catches the 20 years that have passed after the wall’s fall. However the play ends on September 11 2001: Daniela is looking for the IT specialist who was working on the 66th floor, amid ashes falling down from World Trade Center.
Waxing West is a collection of „Hairy Tales”, as Daniela herself calls them, a wild and fantastic story about everything that disfigures a perfect world.
Dagens Nyheter 18 Jan 2009
Waxing West, too big for the room
Author: Ingegärd Waaranperä
Following the success of Saviana Stănescu’s thriller-play White Embers (which is being played again this week), this weekend Dramalabbet has hosted another of her plays, the production of New York-based La Mama ETC.
In Waxing West, a Romanian enterprising mother gets an American husband for her still unmarried daughter Daniela, a cosmetician specialized in body hair removal.
Daniela’s story starts in the old Europe, where children were baptized Elvis and grew up having mixed feelings about the western lifestyle, and ends on September 11 in New York; her Romanian legacy is present in the shape of nightmares with the Ceausescu vampire couple. In the USA Daniela meets her husband-to-be, weird IT genius Charlie, his aggresively well-intentioned sister as well as the predominant self-help culture in all its shapes.
(...) Marnye Young plays Daniela with precision and intensity and keeps us curious about the story. Waxing West highlights Stănescu’s remarkable ability to depict history’s tides and at the same time to take close-ups with individuals trying to keep on the surface.