Thursday, November 15, 2007


‘CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS’ is ridiculous beyond belief!

Michel de Ghelderode, the author of ‘CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS OR (DID YOU SAY SPHERE?),’ the play now being performed by Cesear’s Forum, was a Belgian playwright who reached his writing peak between 1930 and 1945. He was quite prolific. In fact, no one is sure exactly how many plays he wrote. He gained an international reputation because of the controversial 1938 Paris production of ‘FASTES D'ENFER’ (“Chronicles of Hell”), which explored the heights of religious exaltation. At the opening night it is reported that there was a near riot in the theatre.

His plays resound with violence, demonism, holy madness, and off-the-wall humor. Often it seems like the actors are ad-libbing their lines and the actions seem spontaneous. Most plays can be classified as dramas or comedies or musicals. Ghelderode’s works defy classification. Theatre of the absurd? Well, much of what goes on is absurd, but that’s not really the definition of “absurd” as it applies to “theatre of the absurd.” Absurd in that form of play script means out of sync, not ridiculous. It explains the works of Edward Albee and John Paul Sartre, not Ghelderode.

How about vaudeville? Maybe, kinda of. As the public relations for the play states, “a satirical vaudevillian farce.” I’ll buy that. Kind of.

Story line? You kid! There isn’t any storyline, per se. Christopher Columbus and his attempt to prove the world was not flat. Kind of. We do learn that Chris, who stumbled upon the Americas, did so supposedly trying to escape from the “erratics” of his age . As Ghelderode states, “Columbus has always tried to escape.” Make no sense? Don’t worry about it. Don’t look for the production to make sense. Just go to see ‘CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS OR (DID YOU SAY SPHERE?)’ to have a good time. And, be sure that you go with the attitude of having a good time. A Three Stooges, Monty Python, Marx Brothers good time.

The Cesear’s Forum production, under the directorship of Greg Cesear, pulls out all the stops. John Kolibab, he of Zero Mostel mobile face and body, is hysterical as Columbus. His lines flow as if he is making them up on the spot. He is often as surprised by what he says as is the audience.

Jean Zarzour, known locally as the owner of LIPSCHTICK, lets out all the stops as The Woman. The woman who, as the show biz terms states, “eats the scenery” (destroys everything in her path) as she dances, sings and acts like someone one-step away from being deranged. She is hilarious.

The rest of cast tries hard, can’t keep up with Kolibab and Zarzour, but, again, it matters not as the entire happenings are so outrageous, it’s hard not to laugh at about everything that takes place.

Capsule judgement: If you are in the right mood (manic) and appreciate comedy (way out comedy) and the ridiculous (really ridiculous) you’ll fall off your chair laughing at ‘CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS OR (DID YOU SAY SPHERE?).’ On the other hand, if you want a plot, and aren’t in the mood for mental chaos, you’ll not be a happy theatre-goer.