The Nature of the Beast

Beast on the Moon is a novel struggling to be a play

Nothing Aram or Seta does is surprising or unexpected. We understand each of them far sooner than they understand one another. When Aram finally blurts out that the defaced photographic portrait he keeps on display is "his hope," she says, "I didn't know" -- an admission that was patently obvious. The most poignant and affecting interchange occurs when the boy Vincent asks Aram, "Are all Armenians orphans?" The tortured husband and would-be father replies, simply, "Yes."

The second reason involves Parr's pacing, which seems deliberately slow, as though he thought the audience would not be able to follow the interactions of theme and story. The audience would do fine, I suspect, if Parr knew how to build the central conflict: humanity's shared problem of survival in a world where, as the narrator tells us in one of his lyrical asides, whole groups of people are exterminated as though they were beasts on the moon.

Beast on the Moon runs through April 14 at Bayfront Theatre in S.F.; call 243-9895.

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