holden: deciphering reality and illusions
by: danielle desir
Directed by Anisa George, HOLDEN unmasks the disturbing truth about male violence in America. With a very strong message about today’s mass shootings, HOLDEN tells a dark story of how things have drastically changed since J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel, “The Catcher in the Rye”.
Walking into the New Ohio Theatre, the smell of freshly chopped wood and coffee greets you at the door. The play is set in J.D. Salinger’s New Hampshire one-room bunker. It had a small cot, a wooden desk, a safe, a clothesline and a few bookshelves - undeniably a man cave.
The play starts with three super-fans in Salinger’s private writing bunker. These characters could be demons, muses or monsters trapped inside Salinger’s head.
One of the fans is Chapman referring to Mark David Chapman who murdered John Lennon. Another is Hinkley referring to John Hinckley Jr. who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan. Both men had a copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” in their possession when committing their crimes.
Throughout the play, the obsessed Chapman and Hinkley try to get Salinger to publish one more book.
The last fan Zev at first starts out indifferent about helping Chapman and Hinckley. He’s a bit of a nobody and it’s unclear why he’s there. We later find out that Zev is obsessed with mass killings. He’s unlike the others who have only killed one person.
Chapman and Hinckley find Zev immoral. They tie Zev up and accuse him of breaking “the code”. Zev later escapes the bunker when Salinger’s young daughter Peggy comes in after having a bad dream.
With lots of cursing, HOLDEN wasn’t shy about being in your face. The storyline was difficult to follow, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the ending. Nevertheless, one of the most impressive scenes in the play was the slow motion reenactment of a war. I’ve never seen actors act in slow motion live before. I also enjoyed the eerie acoustics.
Although HOLDEN was disturbing and intense, the cast was surprisingly very funny. HOLDEN left quite a few things open to interpretation including reality vs illusion and its warped timeline. One thing is for sure... HOLDEN has me wondering, how will we move forward as a nation riddled with gun violence?