HUNTING COCKROACHES, Footsteps Theatre Company. When I first saw this play in the late 80s the Berlin Wall hadn’t fallen, Lech Walesa was still a hero, and some people still talked seriously about an iron curtain. I remember being especially moved by the artful way playwright Janusz Glowacki used absurdism to describe the insane world of Soviet-dominated Poland–secret police and government censors literally emerge like cockroaches from beneath the protagonists’ bed.
Ten years later the memory of Poland under martial law has faded, and now Glowacki’s sensitive, darkly funny portrait of two Polish ex-pats slowly being driven crazy in New York City makes the play, not his dated, rather facile slashes at the Soviet system.
Director Dale Heinen has wisely chosen to emphasize the personal over the political in this production, casting as the husband and wife a pair of actors who aren’t afraid to explore the emotional recesses of this multilayered comedy–Rebecca Covey and European Repertory Company cofounder Yasen Peyankov. Peyankov in particular wins both laughs and sympathy as a former dissident being driven to ever deeper levels of hysterically funny despair by insomnia, writer’s block, and general culture shock. –Jack Helbig