Sunday, August 7, 2011

Allan Graubard "Comment of Gellu Naum's Taus Watch Repair Shop"

Gellu Naum’s Taus Watch Repair Shop is a world unto itself, with its own laws and characteristics that seem as much part of the world Naum lived in when he wrote the play in 1966 as part of somewhere uniquely Naum’s. That is its charm and something of its directness and humor, qualities which Naum uses to curious effect time and again throughout the several acts. That a watch repair shop not only sustains but doctors time, keeping us ever in time, is also Naum’s way of appealing to our desire to create our own time in any way we see fit. This might not seem so bold a gesture, given our various capacities and relative freedoms, but we should recall that in 1966 Romania was ruled by a dictatorship led by quite enervating pressures to conform. And, during this period, of course, Naum was prevented from pursuing his public life as a poet, and certainly not as a surrealist, but made his bare living as a translator and children’s author.

I did not know Naum personally and cannot say how well or poorly the mask fit him, or the anguish and pleasure it gave him, but I can see its use in this play and enjoy it. I imagine that Naum enjoyed it as well, doubling characters, inviting invisible characters into the dialogue, dividing the space into three playing areas from different times and rarely allowing the play to settle down enough for the audience to accept with its usual complacency any sequence of events. Noticeable as well is the running joke on romantic love, which because of, or despite, the laughter we give it, endures; this possibility reclaiming the irrational hope that love instills in us despite everything that would crush it.

The other theatrical qualities in the play are evident enough, including an undertone of giddiness bordering on vertigo. In the end, we have a comedy of manners of sorts spiced with wit, innuendo, suggestion and high fancies of play that leave their mark and then effervesce.


Allan Graubard
July 2011, New York

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  5. Interesting article, I am assuming that this theatrical piece is based around a watch repair shop owner and his shop during that earlier period in time. I am curious to see the end product and am waiting for the end product. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    Eric | http://www.jewelryclinicrochester.com/services

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