CamdenNewJournal

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Review: The Rage of Narcissus, at Pleasance Theatre

Masterful storytelling as actor becomes playwright in production that's a cross between Greek myth and Grindr

27 February, 2020 — By Emily Finch

Sam Crane in The Rage of the Narcissus. Photo: Ali Wright

IN an unusual strike for a playwright, Sergio Blanco makes himself – or his absence – the main character of The Rage of Narcissus at the Pleasance Theatre.

The unique 90-minute one-hander sees the actor Sam Crane transform into Blanco at the personal request of the boundary-breaking Uruguayan-French writer himself – or does it?

Blanco’s latest offering claims to be based on a true story but the end result is a cross between a Japanese folk tale and an episode of the Twilight Zone peppered with Greek myth and Grindr.

Crane opens the play with a monologue, disguised as a prologue, explaining how he comes to be standing in front of us after a demanding phone call from Blanco.

He then becomes Blanco for the majority of the play with most of the drama unfolding in an upmarket hotel room in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where Blanco has travelled for an academic conference.

Blanco spots a menacing blood stain near his bed after hooking up with the mysterious local Igor whom he found through a dating app. They have sex almost wordlessly.

Instead of preparing for an upcoming speech on his academic paper comparing Narcissus’s gaze with the Artist’s Gaze, Blanco becomes obsessed with the blood stain, just as Narcissus is drawn to his own reflection in the Greek myth.

The story unfolds rather predictably but Crane and Blanco are masterful storytellers.

It’s a play redolent of the Coen brothers’ Barton Fink in theme.

Extra credit must also be given to director Daniel Goldman who skilfully translated the play from Spanish.

Until March 8
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