Once in 1396 and then in 1397, Morteza Esmaeili Kashi staged Marks lied’s play, One Hundred Percent, and this is the third time he directs this piece, staring Hootan Shakiba and Setareh Pesyani. The story is about Michael, a pretty famous actor, who meets Elizabeth, a disabled girl, who asks him to come over to read a play she has written with her. Soon everything gets weird as Elizabeth’s play turns out to be about an actor who is invited by a young disabled writer to her house to read the screenplay she has written. But it gets even more complicated as the similarities increase, and all the acts and dialogues of the characters in the play seem exactly the same as he has said and done. The more Michael struggles the more he feels being directed. Elizabeth knows all about him, his past, his behaviors, as if she is the writer who controls all his actions.
At the end, Michael figures out that all this was about Elizabeth taking revenge on him. In retaliation of a relationship between a fan and a superstar that now is represented in the relationship of an actor and a director.
Like any other mystery play, the performance is based on revealing information one step at a time, while manipulating the perceptions of the audience. And this is in parallel with the transformation of characters. But in the performance as well as the narrative, there is a lack of subtlety in the development of the twisted layers of the text and the characters’ dimensions. The theme of revenge and the dynamic of the characters are a little too predictable and it seems that director wastes all his ideas in the first fifteen minutes of the show. The dynamic scenery due to the uneven surface of the stage, stairs, wheelchair and the dramatic use of the table and the sound effects are all affective in escalating the tension between the characters, although as we move forward, they are not used far beyond clichés, as there is no creativity in their development.
This puts the dramatic burden, entirely on the characters’/actors’ shoulders. Although the-story-within-the-story structure of the play makes enough room for this to work but eventually it has turned into an Achilles heel.
Doubt and hesitation between passion and deviation, seduction and torture, pleasure and pain, life and art and struggling for owning identity and dominating the stage which are all supposed to be embodied in the complicated relationship of two characters remains on the surface. Setareh Pesyani shows the transition from a naïve girl in love with the superstar, to the revengeful Aphrodite by different tones which being inaudible is their common point. Hooman Shakiba’s lack of control on his body makes his transition from a handsome young man to a lame and wounded victim seems to be chewing the scenery. So instead of characters and voices that feel doubtful and annoyed, we confront the bodies and voices that shout “I am annoyed” and “I am suspicious” and they are thrilled with their anger and doubt. Creating complicated and unreliable situations in a “Play-within-a-play” structure needs unpredictable and multi-dimensioned characters, whereas here, even when characters reach to the climax, they still seem shallow and clichéd so the red light and the sound effect express the logic of characters’ sensation and transformation far more than their inner world.
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