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`Closetland' is brutal, sinister

One-act play tells a story about a children's author oppressed by government

Theater X's production of "Closetland" is rough around the edges, but passionately executed. Director Adam Durant and his two lone cast members have poured their hearts into Radha Bharadwaj's obscure one-act play.

Durant's belief that "Closetland" speaks to real-life situations echoes throughout the production. "Government oppression, the stifling of ideas, beating down a person's view of life because you disagree with it - these things happen in the real world," says Durant.

"Closetland" takes place in a stark interrogation room and begins when an unnamed government detains a children's author. UNM student Maria Johnson plays The Woman who Wrote the Cat With Green Wings and the Flying Cow. She is suspected of using her fanciful children's stories to propagate the overthrow of the government.

Johnson's voice is the same measured whine throughout the performance as her tone is reminiscent of fingernails screeching down a chalkboard. Johnson's irritating voice, however, does not take away from her capable physical performance. Her detailed use of her body makes her character's torture scenes disturbingly real. Johnson is particularly riveting during "Closetland's" final scene. As she chooses her fate silently, the blank look in her eyes is terrifying.

Aaron Work does a deliciously creepy job as the government interrogator, The Man. His movements are sometimes clumsy, but never once does Work's character take anything less than pleasure in cruelty. Work uses his voice well - many scenes hinge entirely on his careful elocution. Work comes through with flying colors. A steadier hand, and perhaps the replacement of his ill-fitting black suit, would merely be the icing on the cake of his jarring performance.

Durant's attention to detail is remarkable for such a young director. "Closetland" is worth seeing if only to experience Durant's stunning visual interpretation of the play. Everything is carefully chosen, from costumes, to set placement and the movement of the actors.

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At the beginning of the play, The Man gives his suit coat to The Woman. The coat is so large, it appears to swallow her whole. Leaving the audience with a clear picture of The Woman's vulnerability. The Woman is gowned in white, The Man dressed in black, representing strong and weak, good and evil. The audience gleans more about the production from what is shown instead of said.

"Closetland" is brutal and dark. The twisting plot is often cruel and the ending both delights and horrifies.

"Closeland is disturbing," Durant said. "But it will leave you thinking - whether or not you like the show."

"Closetland" runs Wednesday through Saturday until September 22nd. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.00 and available at UNM ticket outlets. "Closetland" is not suitable for children.


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