Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2013’

Actors Shine in a Great Production of Eugene Ionesco’s “The Chairs”



It is worth the price of admission to see two brilliant actors David Sinaiko as the Old Man and Tamar Cohn as the Old Woman in Eugene Ionesco 1952 absurdist classic “The Chairs” now playing at the Cutting Ball Theatre in residence at EXIT on Taylor through March 31st.  The last time I saw this Avant-Garde classic was at the John Golden Theatre in Manhattan with two very fine British actors Richard Briers and Geraldine McEwan playing the parts in 1998.


Eugene Ionesco has been called a “tragic clown”, the “Shakespeare of the Absurd, the Enfant Terrible of the Avant-Garde” and the “Inventor of the Metaphysical Farce” and “The Chairs” is a prime example of Absurd theatre. Ionesco presents these two human beings through his artistic prism as simplistic caricatures, at their most petty, brutal and ugly, unaware of their own absurd existence. It’s about the impossibility of communicating anything meaningful. It’s a cross between Bechettian bleakness and Marx Brothers frenzy.


The Cutting Ball Theatre has remained faithful to the spirit of the original thanks to director Annie Elias. The play opens with the Old Man and his wife Semiramis in their isolated seaside home.  They have been married for about seventy five years. They are waiting for the Orator to deliver the Old Man’s message to humankind. She never tires of hearing the Old Man’s story since he has told her “a million times” and he is sick of telling it “imitating the same people, the same month” However she insist that she never tires of it since it is her story also.


Both pass their days in metaphysical reminiscence until the arrival of a series of unseen guests who come to hear the Orator’s message to the world delivered by this speaker on his behalf. As each non-existent guest arrives, fulsomely welcomed by name and rank, more and more chairs are put out until the space is entirely filled with furniture.


Finally the Orator arrives to deliver the message that will save the world.  Believing their task is over, the old couple jump through the windows to their watery deaths.  The Orator stands in front of all the chairs and mutters some incomprehensible grunts. He even writes on a blackboard phrases that make no sense.


David Sinaiko as the Old Man effortlessly commands the stage and he is entirely convincing as the naïve if pompous master of the mop and bucket.  Tamar Cohen is outstanding as the Old Woman and she bring sexual warmth to bear on the role of Semiramis even grinding her loins of an absent Lothario.  Derek Fischer gives a first rate performance as The Orator without saying a word.


Eugene Ioneco’s “The Chairs” plays through March 31 at the Cutting Ball Theatre in residence at EXIT on Taylor (277 Taylor St) San Francisco.   For tickets call 415-525-1205 or on line at

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