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Review: HOST & GUEST At Synetic Theater

Review: HOST & GUEST At Synetic Theater

The production runs from September 12 through October 2.

There are underlying rules (both spoken and unspoken) about the relationship between guests and hosts. In Synetic Theater's Host & Guest, based on Vazha Pshavela's narrative poem of the same name, conflict and culture clashes with the rules of hospitality. The biggest rule of hospitality is: "The guest will be the last to die."

Zviadauri (Vato Tsikurishvili), a Christian man, stumbles upon Joqola (Dan Istrate), who is hunting deer in the woods near his village. Both come from warring factions, and yet, Joqola decides to invite Zviadauri into his home. They feast and drink, but lurking in the shadows is Musa (Irakli Kavsadze), the village elder, who disapproves of Joqola's guest. Synetic's Host & Guest depicts the intensity of Kist-Khevsur conflict through an unlikely bond between two strangers.

The cast of Host & Guest are graceful and powerful within their movements. The stylized choreography of Irina Tsikurishvili and the acrobatic fights choreographed by Vato Tsikurishvili blend together, creating a cycle of unity and rivalry. This is where Synetic is at its strongest with its focus on storytelling through movement. The smooth and rapid movements of choreography reflect the style of Georgian traditional dances. When this is paired with Phil Charlwood's set design (remounted from the original by Gogi Alexi Meskhishvili) and hypnotic original music by resident composer Koki Lortkipanidze, the play proves to be both visually stunning in its message of camaraderie.

Review: HOST & GUEST At Synetic Theater
Ensemble cast of Host & Guest. Featured center: Dan Istrate (left, brown tunic) as
Joqola and Vato Tsikurishvili (right, red tunic) as Zviadauri. Photo credit: Johnny Shryock.

The rush of movement provides room for the stillness of many scenes and allows the cast to breathe in life to quieter moments within the play. This experience takes form in mourning and loss. War tears a daughter from her mother, and wives mourn the deaths of their husbands in the dim glow of candlelight.

Synetic's Host & Guest includes some lines of dialogue, which are delivered with passion by the cast, but unfortunately, this provides confusion within the narrative for the audience, and leaves room for unresolved questions. Scenes heavy with dance are powerful on their own and they can be interrupted however you want. However, when the dances are followed by scenes with dialogue, this creates doubt of your previous interpretation. The best way for this play to be more effective in its message is for it to lean further into Synetic's strengths: storytelling with movement.

The play's timing couldn't be more relevant, as it brings to mind not just the Ukraine War, but the impact that all wars have on people.

Running Time: 90 minutes without an intermission

Synetic Theater's Host & Guest runs September 12, 2022 through October 2, 2022 in Crystal City, Virginia. Tickets can be purchased here. Top photo caption and credit: Ensemble cast of Host & Guest. Featured center top: Irina Tsikurishvili as Agaza. Photo by Johnny Shryock.



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