With clear eyes filled with emotion, true windows of their souls, the cast of Saghatel Haroutunyan’s “If Your Eyes Are Clear…” tell the compelling story of a Soviet-era Armenian superior court judge, under great pressure from friends, family and society, weighing the scales of justice on all sides—clearly not an “open and shut case.”
In the style of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”—which harks back to Puritan America, a time of witch hunts as a way to explore corruption in American government in the 1950’s—so too is this play a testament of human values and ethics against ever so complicated circumstances.
Cleverly intertwining the theme of innocence vs. corruption/evil, a sub-plot, involving the art of shadow puppetry, shows an allegory of a little girl (Lyudmila Grigoryan) and the forceful, scary “man eater” (Carl Coughlan) perfectly capturing the essence of the larger, more focal drama.
Erik Finck (puppeteer) has designed and puppeteered numerous projects locally and throughout the world, using puppets (similar to “Ave. Q”) to address sensitive social issues in an approachable way.
“If Your Eyes Are Clear…” has all the elements of a Philip Roth novel (i.e. “Goodbye Columbus,” “I Married A Communist,” “American Pastoral,” etc.) in its exploration of the moral ethos, as the characters on stage are driven to deal with societal dilemmas. Perhaps, Emma Lynch who plays Nazeni, daughter of Judge Henrik, says it best when alluding to her children away at camp: “Dirt can be washed away, the muddiness once again cleared.” Her prophetic words are reminders of how corruption, bribery, suffering and draconian injustice (all too real and relevant to this day) can be washed away, merely forgotten, almost as if “nothing new under the sun.”
“If Your Eyes Are Clear…” is a shockingly-powerful realistic look at truth, forgiveness, innocence and guilt, and the epitome of one man’s inner judgment of himself.
“If Your Eyes are Clear” plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm through December 12 at The Luna Playhouse (3706 San Fernando Rd., Glendale, CA). For more information, call (818) 500-7200 or visit their Web site at www.lunaplayhouse.org.