By Victor Kong
Rachel Sorsa, Robertson Dean, John Perrin Flynn, and Leslie Ayvazian in "100 Aprils"
Photo by Michelle Hanzelova
If the dying doctor's paranoia wasn't enough to chill the scene of the psychiatric ward, then the detachment of his wife and daughter might seek to drive him mad. Sitting on the chair upstage is a tall Turkish man-and in "100 Aprils" his appearance is left ambiguous.
At the MET Theatre, Leslie Ayvazian's tale of genocide denial deals a striking note when you remember it is being performed in the heart of Little Armenia. Rogue Machine's "100 Aprils" tells the tale of the Armenian genocide and how refusal to recognize its place in history can torment the ones seeking only the faintest of recognition. Strapped to the hospital bed is Dr. John Saypian (John Perrin Flynn) whose faint memory and ghostly incoherence only serves to maximum his uselessness. He stammers in and out of thoughts, asking for wet pajamas, commenting on his hidden notebook of drawings, calling out for his wife (Ayvazian) and daughter Arlene (Rachel Sorsa) through fits of absentmindedness.
Leslie Ayvazian and Robertson Dean
Photo by Michelle HanzelovaAnd that's where the heart of the play truly lies is in its lead's futility and lack of worth. Ayvazian focuses the dialogue and the narrative on minutiae-pajamas, bee stings, bathroom locations and more. The toll of the Armenian genocide and the haunting presence of Robertson Dean's Ahmet, a taunting Turkish soldier of John's mind, surges forth in bursts, yet never finds enough momentum to pay off, nor is anything foreshadowed with a clear ending. Dean also portrays the dual role of a Turkish doctor assigned to John's care-and perhaps there may be an important thematic link between the roles outside of ethnicity, but Ayvazian chooses minutiae over set-ups and payoffs.
Leslie Ayvazian and John Perrin Flynn
Photo by Michelle HanzelovaSome stories can cut to the chase so quickly that they know to tell "lightning in a bottle" moments of time. "100 Aprils" is set in such a continuous moment of a psychiatric ward, told in real life. Yet stories of that ilk deserve clearer substance. Ayvazian's play recalls an experimental structure not unlike Luis Buñuel. In its characters, in its structure, in its narrative, there's an unnerving message that has a germ of potential in its ambiguity. But if only we could figure it out easier.
Written by Leslie Ayvazian
Directed by Michael Arabian
Thru July 16 at the Rogue Machine Theatre.