A devastating stage set

October 18, 1991|By Winifred Walsh

For the Center Stage production of Ugo Betti's "The Queen and the Rebels," stage designer Christopher Barreca has created an environmental set that uses two-thirds of the Head Theater space.

The audience will be part of the devastated, bombed-out town hall atmosphere that extends to all the walls of the theater. The walls are rotting slats of wood. Sandbags are piled high against a blackened brick wall. Puddles of muddy water cover the floor. A burned out refrigerator sits uselessly at one side.

"The feeling we are trying to convey is that of a war-torn European country after World War II that is being taken over by zealous revolutionaries," said Barreca. "The action takes place in a remote mountaintop village where every passing traveler is detained for ruthless interrogation and possible annihilation.

"We are dealing with no place to hide, a feel of social collapse . . . the edge of anarchy . . . what Yugoslavia will look like in a few months.

"The set also represents our own fears . . . Betti's fears that society will become a dysfunctional family."

Barreca, who designed the Center Stage sets for "The Lady From the Sea," "In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe," "Fool for Love" and "An Enemy of the People" (among others), said that a photograph of a Kuwaiti torture chamber inspired the concept.

"The simple horror of that chamber was frightening," he said. "We have tried to create the reality of what that was like and what it would be like for the hostages being held captive in Beirut."

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