|Stephen Stocking, Patrick Page, Ramiz Monsef and Josiah |
Bania in the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s “Archduke.”
All photos by Craig Schwartz.
The only vehicle for the exploration of odious and repellent subject matter often comes via the clarity that the genre of comedy provides. Satires or farces are the favorite choices of playwrights that want to get a ‘tough sell’ message across. The great French, 17th century playwright Moliere employed the genre in order to have his head remain firmly attached to his shoulders during his lengthy writing career during the Divine Right of Kings era in Europe.
Cleveland-born playwright Rajiv Joseph, a journeyman writer, really had his breakthrough theatrical moment with his highly successful play “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”, when it premiered at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA. in 2009. “Bengal Tiger” was then performed at the Mark Taper Forum (MTF) in 2010 before moving to Broadway where it became a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Mr. Joseph hit his stride with “Guards at the Taj” in 2016, again premiering at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, establishing him as a major American playwright. “Archduke”, his current dark comedy, had its world premiere Sunday, May 7th on the MTF stage in Los Angeles.
|Ramiz Monsef, Josiah Bania and Stephen Stocking |
in the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s “Archduke."
The gallows humor comedy is set in 1914 in the Balkan cities of Belgrade and Sarajevo. The question playwright Joseph explores is: are these three, uneducated, rural, village youths capable of becoming human bombs and martyrs? Those choices are still resonating with individuals fighting in many Middle East war zones today. It appears that the suicide bombers in “Archduke” have become the template for recruiting zealots and followers today.
|Stephen Stocking and Todd Weeks |
in Rajiv Joseph’s “Archduke."
“Archduke” is skillfully staged by long time Joseph collaborator and award-winning director Giovanna Sardelli, and features a fabulous Scenic Design by Tim Mackabee, whose unique, creatively designed, on-stage replica of the Orient Express train earned a round of applause to open the second act. Also visually eye-catching is a huge map of the Balkan countries that subliminally keeps the focus on the narrative of the story, as well as on the talents of the gifted ensemble cast.
|Stephen Stocking is the would-be assassin |
Gavrilo in Rajiv Joseph's"Archduke."
“Archduke” performs at the Mark Taper Forum and runs through June 4, 2017.