February 2008

A Crooked Man by Richard Kalinoski
presented by Aluna Theatre
Feb. 23 – Mar. 2, 2008 The Theatre Centre Toronto
"1,500,000 Armenians' prayers didn't reach God." (Hagop Hagopian)
by David Fujino
It's 1993 in a U.S. midwestern town.

The 26-year old writer, Alex, has come to interview Hagop, his 88-year old Armenian grandfather, about the 1915 Armenian genocide for a magazine article.

But as Alex quickly discovers — in a series of tensely humorous verbal exchanges — his innocent questions only throw the door open to the horrors and tumultuous nightmares that have plagued Hagop for most of his life.

The day that the young Hagop assassinated the Turkish governor responsible for the massacres in his village, Hagop couldn't have known how deeply this single act would define him.

And recurring questions like: Is Hagop an avenger or an assassin? Is he a murderer or a hero? are given no easy answers.

Over the play's 95 minutes, the core narrative — that of grandfather and grandson — is well articulated by Hrant Alianik (Hagop) and Garen Boyajian (Alex), while the mostly historical details (the Turkish governor Mehmet Pasha, the boy Hagop, neighbours, the court's prosecuting and defending attorneys, as well as Hagop's daughter) are rounded out by the solid all-Armenian cast.

In a stroke of effective staging, the three supporting actors are kept on stage and arranged in a kind of constellation around Alianik and Boyajian. Carlo Essagian played the roles of Dr. Schmidt, a young Hagop and Defense Attorney with clear definition. Araxi Arslanian brought a varied physicality to her Anahid, Mrs. Reinhardt, a Turkish woman and a blind woman. Michael Kazarian as Mehmet Pasha, while occasionally jerky in his Turkish accent, was steadier as the Judge and Prosecuting Attorney.

But these are minor quibbles and observations about the play's Opening Night performance. As the run continues, the other matter of the pace between the grandfather and grandson scenes and the supporting characters' alternating scenes, will surely tighten up.

The story of A Crooked Man reaches out from the Armenian community to touch the hearts and minds of other communities; and most importantly, it speaks about revenge, guilt, and an uneasy absolution that, in time, is available to all.

Hagop Hagopian — Hrant Alianak
Anahid/Mrs. Reinhardt/Turkish Woman/Blind Woman — Araxi Arslanian
Alex (Alexan) — Garen Boyajian
Dr. Schmidt/Young Hagop/Defense Attorney — Carlo Essagian
Mehmet Pasha/Judge/Prosecuting Attorney — Michael Kazarian

Director/Producer — Hrant Alianak

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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