Last Chance to Catch The Rembrandt Room, a Buntport Masterpiece

This weekend is your last chance to catch The Rembrandt Room, a Buntport Theater Company masterpiece. Here's our capsule review of the show:

As good as Buntport's plays have always been, The Rembrandt Room, a long monologue by a guide watching over said room in Russia’s Hermitage Museum, reaches an entire new level. It’s transcendent, a brilliant work of art. The guide, played by Erin Rollman, stands by Rembrandt’s “Danaë.” She directs people to the restrooms, tells them to stay two feet from the paintings, forbids the use of flash photography. And she returns again and again to the painting itself, where Danaë is shown naked, reclining on cushions, gazing toward the light falling through a gap in some draperies.

The guide tells Danaë’s story. Having heard a prophecy that he would be killed by her son, her father imprisoned her underground so that she could never bear a child. But that randy shape-changer Zeus entered her dungeon in the form of a shower of bright coins and impregnated her. Over the course of the evening, the guide talks about many interesting things: how we see and judge art. The difference between nude and naked. The role of Catherine the Great in the painting’s history. The attack by a madman who poured acid on the work and slashed Danaë’s belly in 1985, and the twelve years it took to get the painting restored. Certain facts return again and again, and each time the meaning is deeper or a little different.

But academic analysis isn’t the point. The point is the nervous, spurty, ridiculous movements of the guide’s mind. Because she isn’t just anyone. She’s somebody very specific. And this somebody is a figure that only Rollman, with her unique and considerable talents as an actor, could create. At first the guide seems eccentric, if not quite mad: the nervous gestures, the weird laugh, the way her voice gets uncomfortably shrill here and there. She’s funny and silly — and also tragic, particularly as you come to sense the echoes of her own life she finds in Rembrandt’s painting.

But Rollman didn’t create this piece of theater alone. The script was written by the entire company, which includes Brian Colonna, Hannah Duggan, Erik Edborg and SamAnTha Schmitz. You might expect writing like this to require solitude – but perhaps after all their years together, these artists have actually taken up residence in each others’ minds. Presented by Buntport through April 30, 717 Lipan Street, 720-946-1388, Read our full review of The Rembrandt Room.

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman