A Bureaucrat’s Sad Tale

Although the two plays were originally written years apart, there’s a distinctly Buntport-like thread between Kafka on Ice, the theater’s most recent resurrection in its tenth-anniversary retrospective season, and The 30th of Baydak, which returns to the stage tonight: Both are funny and heartwarming and charmingly weird, of course, but that basically applies to every Buntport production. More specifically, both deal with the (Kafkaesque?) alienation and absurdity of modern bureaucracy. The difference, says troupe member Brian Colonna, is that “I feel like this one might be a little more bleak.”

Which is saying something. The story follows Yousef, a Turkmen government worker under the totalitarian regime of ruler-for-life Turkmenbashi (who died in 2006). One of Turkmenbashi’s many megalomaniacal eccentricities is his tendency to arbitrarily change the names of things, and it’s Youself’s job to cut the name of the old month of February out of all official documents so that it can be replaced with “Baydak,” the new name. At home, Yousef “lives with a camel,” says Colonna. “He has some conversations with his roommate, and the conflict he has is sort of like the choice he makes to do something in the face of this oppressive regime, the monotony of his life and the absurdity of his situation in general.

“It doesn’t quite work out for him,” he notes.

Buntport hardly ever remounts old productions, so there’s no telling when or if they’ll stage Baydak, originally produced in 2003, again. See it tonight at 8 p.m. and Thursdays through Sundays, through April 23 at the Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street. Tickets for tonight’s opening reception are $20. For showtimes, tickets or more information, go to www.buntport.com or call 720-946-1388.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: April 1. Continues through April 17, 2011

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte