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Magical tragic farce ‘White Wedding’ returns to Odyssey

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Chekhov meets Fellini in an enchanting tragicomedy brimming with wit, charm and a large dose of the magical by one of Poland’s most distinguished modern playwrights. Ron Sossi directs a revival of “White Marriage” by Tadeusz Różewicz in a translation by Adam Czerniawski, currently on stage at the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A.

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Set in Poland circa 1890, “White Marriage” is a surreal and erotic coming-of-age fairytale that follows a young girl’s poignant emergence into womanhood and frightened resistance to her impending marriage. Two sisters, sensitive delicate Bianca (Kate Dalton) and vital precocious Pauline (Emily Goss), are on the verge of adulthood. Bianca is betrothed to a boy and the preparations for her imminent wedding send the girls into a flurry of excitement and confusion. With the adult world spinning around them, the two respond in wildly different ways to the strange discoveries they are making about the mysterious business of sex.

“The central theme is the battle between the part of us that is animal and uncontrolled – our sexual libido – and the part that wants to be civilized and orderly,” says Sossi. “That conflict is eternal and always of interest to me. Dionysus vs. Apollo. The play was written in 1975, but it’s set before the turn of the 20th century in a kind of Chekhovian environment, a society that revolves around manners, fashion and mores. But always surrounding their world is the forest, filled with animal, natural urges.”

He continues, “Różewicz wrote “White Marriage” during a very rich time in Polish theater, a time when Poland was still ruled by the Communist party. It’s extremely theatrical, highly expressionistic and tremendous fun. A lot of people didn’t get to see it when we did it the first time.”

Sossi first directed “White Marriage” at the Odyssey 35 years ago, in a production that garnered rave reviews and went on to tour throughout California. That production featured Beth Hogan in the role of the lusty younger sister, Pauline. This time round, Hogan returns in the role of the girls’ romantic aunt. The rest of the ensemble includes John Apicella, Mark Bramhall, Diana Cignoni, Steve Humphreys, Sarah Lyddan, Yulia Moiseenko, Sharon Powers and Austin Rogers.

White Marriage” performs 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through May 25, 2014. Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on May 15 and May 22. Tickets are $25 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and $30 on Saturdays and Sundays. Call 310- 477-2055 or go to www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. in West Los Angeles.

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