Thu Jun 19 2008
Photograph: Carl Skutch
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
For all his whining about being mad north-northwest, Hamlet had it together. His lunacy was actually just disguise and indecision, which left it to jilted Ophelia to go quietly, legitimately bonkers. In Aya Ogawa’s airy, occasionally lovely Oph3lia, a trio of modern women—a voluntarily mute Japanese woman in New York, a troubled Korean girl in a Catholic girls’ school and a Spanish interpreter freaking out in Tagalog—finds events pushing them past their coping abilities.
These stories braid and bleed into one another, with long sections in multiple languages to help the audience empathize with each character’s sense of displacement. Much like the original Ophelia, however, our ladies would be better off if Hamlet didn’t keep horning in on their orisons. Ogawa’s graceful scenes inevitably stumble when someone quotes Shakespeare—her attempts to hew to a theme stick out like a hawk on a handsaw.
Still, Ogawa the writer trumps Ogawa the director—although the scenes with a silent Ikuko Ikari drifting along to her own voiceover work like (and as) a dream. In almost every area, ideas are there, but execution isn’t. Clint Ramos’s set involves a rotating wall and lit-up floor—but it looks depressingly dingy under Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew’s lights. The choreography can be clever (schoolgirls rock out) or banal (viewpoints-inspired grid-walking), but it is never clean. Still, the cast boasts enough savvy performers (like Jy Murphy and Connie Hall) that the piece should tighten over time. And Ogawa herself has something in common with the genuinely nuts—she must not unwatch’d go.