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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

'The Unseen' a Sight to Behold at World's Stage

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The World's Stage Theatre Company produces a haunting, evocative rendition of Craig Wright's drama The Unseen. Ben Rogaczewski and Zachary Kunde play Wallace and Valdez, two men who have been in prison for a very long time. They may not ever have spoken face to face, but over the years they've shared elaborate conversations that speak to profound intimacy. A man they know as Smash (Clayton Hamburg) periodically takes the men out of their cells to be tortured. Director Catie O'Donnell does an excellent job of keeping these interactions unique and distinct without compromising their complex dynamics.

Wright delivers hope in the face of adversity in an intellectually engaging script. Poetry and philosophy in the dialogue speak to whimsical, dark humor. The charming, skeletal Kunde plays a restless intellect desperately trying to infer the outside world from life inside the cell. Rogaczewski dives into a shadowy empathy with the unknown that makes for a compelling balance to Kunde's skittish restlessness. Hamburg plays the force of oppression with animal fury tempered by human conscience. Explosive moments of anger are Hamburg's forte. His portrait of Smash is so complete that when he expresses his own distress, the empathy and concern we see from the two men he tortures seems as real as it does comic. Even when the poetic ambiguity of the piece threatens to make abstract allegory of the play, this ensemble makes it all very real.

The World's Stage Theatre Company's production of The Unseen runs through Jan. 29 at the Tenth Street Theatre. Tickets can be reserved at brownpapertickets.com/event/217650.