'Hunting Cockroaches'

What happens one sleepless night in Manhattan to a couple of Polish &


233;s in their squalid, shabby quarters in the Lower East Side that serve as living room, bedroom and kitchen? Here Janek Krupinski (Jonathan W. Dyrud) and his wife Anka (Jordan Leigh Wakefield) live.

Southern Oregon University's Department of Theatre Arts supplies the answer in its current production of Janusc Glowacki's 1987 diverting, imaginative, acutely observed comedy, "Hunting Cockroaches," in the Center Square Theatre, ably translated by Jadwiga Kosicka. (OSF, by the way, gave us a look-see in 1989 in the Black Swan.)

Amid all the skyscrapers, they can scarcely scrape a living: she is an accomplished actress but has a strong accent, he a respected novelist and playwright afflicted with a chronic writer's block. No green cards, so no work. They are two months in arrears with the rent and headed apparently for a homeless hang-out. Everything revolves around the capacious double bed, even to the comings and goings of their visitors.

First there is the Immigration Officer who takes their thumbprints but no questions (Nicholas Walker, brightly bureaucratic); the pair of Polish secret police who had pressured Anka and Janek to leave Poland, namely Czesio (Sam Ashdown) and Rysio (Nick Boyd); the impressive Bum of Robert Chikar who amusingly identifies his cast-off furniture; a pair of educated liberals in evening attire, Mr. Thompson (Michael Fallon) and Mrs. Thompson (Ana ers) who belittle American culture. Finally, there's the Censor (Clinton K. Clark), an absurdist character in shorts and colorful holiday shirt. And what a smooth exit he makes!

You want to know about cockroaches? In the play, there are frequent attacks on them with rolled up newspapers and the heel of a shoe. There's talk about these nocturnal insects that have flat oval bodies, long antennae and chewing mouthpieces; that eat only garbage, hunt at night and hatch eggs during the day. They infest homes of rich and poor alike. The odd thing is they do not like coffee. And New York is full of them.

Guest director Terri McMahon has had a long association with Oregon Shakespeare Festival (13 seasons) and was actor-teacher for its 1984-2005 school visit programs. She believes that "Glowacki finds an eccentric world that defies logic." She certainly has captured the spirit of his play.

Scenic design is by Amanda Patt; costume design by Linnaea Boone Wilson; lighting design by Bridget Carlson and sound design by Chris Sackett.

Jordan Leigh Wakefield as Anka and Jonathan W. Dyrud as Janek are a real joy to watch. Their potential is evident in their chemistry, touching tenderness and lovable expressiveness. They each have their moment &

she at the play's opening when she renders Lady Macbeth's sleep-walking soliloquy, he after intermission when he takes out a map and conducts a geography lesson with considerable charm.

Janusc Glowacki was born in 1938 in Poznan, Poland, one of the country's oldest cities, some 170 miles west of Warsaw. When, on September 1, 1939, the German armies invaded Poland, Britain, true to its promise, declared war on Germany two days later. He was about — year old and lived through all the bombings and the postwar tensions, turmoil and political upheavals. Many years later, he acknowledged: "I was born with a dark humor, and because of that, I survived somehow. All that is left for us to do is to laugh at how tragically funny we are." Fast-forward to 1981, when he flew from Warsaw to London for the opening of his play "Cinders," only to be hit with the news that martial law had been imposed in Warsaw and that tanks had rolled into the city and police had fired on striking miners. Enough of that. He immigrated to the United States.

Performances are at 8 p.m. on May 17, 22, 23 and 24, with matinees at 2 p.m. on May 17, 24 and 25. The Box Office can be reached at 552-6348 and is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and for two hours prior to every performance.

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