Sight for Sore Eyes

Christian Masciotti’s Vision Disturbance , playing at the Abron Arts Center, is a variation on the doctor-patient relationship with some pleasant surprises. A socially awkward ophthalmologist with a poor bedside manner prescribes classical music for his patient’s eye disorder. It’s true the music can relieve stress, but is it enough? In the midst of her divorce, Mondo, a middle aged Greek Women played by Linda Mancini, awakes one morning to find that her eyesight is impaired. As she describes to Dr. Hull, “I looked up and the chest of drawers, like someone took a hammer. . .The whole room, everything was pieces.” She is suffering from terrible migraines and has lost all sense of depth perception. Add to this the mental stress of discovering that her husband is having an affair and has moved in with the other woman, it is obvious that Mondo is need of medical attention. Dr. Hull’s prescribes symphony tickets, Bach and Tchaikovsky. Mondo, although a lover of classical music, is not impressed by the prescribed therapy but continues to see Dr. Hull, played by Jay Smith.

It seems as if both Mondo and Dr. Hull are suffering from a similar ailment: loneliness. Mondo drives much of this story, never failing to update Dr. Hull on the latest antics of her ex-husband, and Dr. Hull is an eager listener. At one point, Hull suggests that Mondo come in for an extra session, preferably in the afternoon. Mondo says she is only free in the morning. Without even checking his calendar, Hull says “That’s fine. I had a cancellation.”

In Masciotti’s world, all the senses are in fact disturbed. For Mondo, her limited sight affects her hearing and listening to classical music is a form of torture. The inclusion of both live music - Mondo’s attempt at clunky improv on the piano juxtaposed with recordings of classical pieces - offers a lovely contrast. When the piano fails to relive Mondo’s stress, Dr. Hull gives Mondo a drumstick and recommends that she bang on a cymbal until she feels better.

Director Richard Maxwell’s decision to stage Vision Disturbance with a sort of myopic direction is on point with the essence of the play—being limited in sight, in space, in expression. The set, two chairs, a simple wooden floor and matching wall panel obscure the larger theater space, providing a visual limitation for the audience. Mondo’s piano playing prevents us from fully hearing the classical music that she is mimicking. Like Mondo, we cannot see the bigger picture. However, I am not sure if this narrowing served the overall production. In a two-person play with limited design, the performances are central key and Dr. Hull’s clinical monotone performance veered towards the tedious.

The final moment of the play offers a triumphant, symphonic revelation that should not be missed. It would have been interesting to see if there had been more opportunities to reveal some of this depth earlier in the production. Overall, the “big picture” that emerges in the final scene is one worth seeing.

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