Max Berry, Contributing Critic - New York City
“Black Garden” is a theatrical collage set in the warring nations of Armenia and Azerbaijan and tells us several stories involving people such as an Armenian woman struggling to recall a lost lover through amnesia, a man being imprisoned and accused of espionage, two corrupt political leaders, and diaspora Armenians on the search for love and struggling to understand who they are.
The various characters were all played by the same two actors which at times made it hard to distinguish who we were with at that moment (especially in the beginning). Though, this was helped by costuming and designating different parts of the stage to different storylines.
Actors Tamara Sevunts and Alex Marz were very engaging throughout, keeping our attention through each of the various roles played. Bouncing from serious to satirical and back again, their commitment and passion more than made up for the occasional surprising shifts in tone.
The surprising shifts I am referring to are the satirical scenes between the two political leaders. That, while well-written and entertaining, felt out of place with the rest of the play. While the other scenes all seemed to belong to the same world, these felt as if they were from a different play entirely (Though, a very funny one).
While there were many beautiful and striking images in the show, such as the opening image of one of Sevunts characters, singing in a cafe of sorts, the one continuously stuck with me was the scale center stage, teetering ever so slightly throughout the play, a continuous reminder of the ever-present tension between the two nations. As the actors transitioned from scene to scene a weight would be placed on either end of the scale “tipping the scales” one direction or another and creating a beautiful metaphor as the stakes rose for all of the characters present in the play.
Overall, “Black Garden” was a very moving piece with talented actors that dealt with its difficult subject matter in a mature and engaging way and I look forward to seeing where it goes in the future.
“Black Garden” was written by Gordon Penn and directed by Arthur Makaryan.
It features Tamara Sevunts and Alex Marz.
Dramaturgy by Elizigrace Madrone, Set and Lighting Design by Kelvin Pater.
The show was choreographed by Kristen Brooks-Sandler with fight choreography by Robert Najarian.
“Black Garden” runs February 6th, 7th,13th,14th at 8PM and February 9th and 16th at 3PM
More info can be found here: https://www.thetanknyc.org/calendar/black-garden-february-7