Living up to it's name, Germinal Stage Denver has undertaken the world premiere of The Invalids, a unique and quirky play by first-time playwright, Canadian George Hunka. Hunka's grotesque characters and eccentric physical comedy resemble the absurd theatre of Ionesco and Pinter of which director Ed Baierlein is so fond.
Baierlein is a master and getting his actors to make sense and nonsense of difficult dialogue, and his veteran players Michael Shalhoub, Petra Ulrych, and David Quinn take their six characters and stretch them to their tragicomedic limits.
The Invalids gets its name from Hunka's medically challenged subjects, who suffer countless maladies that parallel their psychological and emotional wounds and who give birth to a world in which there are no healthy children. Yet the play, written during the playwright's travels to the Balkans, manages to find an inkling of hope in depressing and dark surroundings.
Shaloub, whose striking physical appearance and plastic features lend themselves to intense, often extraordinary expression, has the audience in stitches from his shocking appearance in the first scene. Ulrych exercises her remarkable range metamorphosing from a wine happy hypochondriac housewife to a bawdy gypsy waitress. Quinn draws our scorn and pity moving effortlessly from pretentiousness to haplessness and sends us to our knees with his alliterative stutter.
Germinal Stage Denver's world premiere of George Hunka's biting and zany The Invalids runs through December 9th. 303-455-7108.