The Bald Soprano always wears her hair in the same style. And The Bald Soprano, written in 1950 by Eugene Ionesco as a “tragedy of language,” is probably the most well-known work of absurdist theater. And THE BALD SOPRANO, this year’s Fringe offering by the IRC, is an incisive commentary on what happens when no one understands one another.
The play centers around two couples, their maid, and a fire chief, all of whom speak in absurd utterances—at one moment saying one thing, at the next saying the opposite, but all in making the same argument. Director Tina Brock (who also plays Mrs. Smith) and her cast handle the language very well, keeping up with Ionesco’s insane pacing. As a farce this is wildly funny, but what makes it memorable is their willingness to dive into the darkness of absurdism.
It would be easy to look at this tangled text and cry, “nothing means anything!” But here, everything means something else. Long pauses between Ionesco’s ridiculous arguments dredge up the deep dissatisfaction and discomfort which lies underneath crossed wires. In the world Brock creates, even eye contact between two people is a treacherous enterprise. No one understands one another, no one trusts one another, and that is a fearful thing.
[Bethany Mission Gallery, 1527 Brandywine Street] September 5-24, 2017. fringearts.com/event/eugene-ionescos-bald-soprano.