by Barbara Lebow
by Barbara Lebow
2M, 2W, 1Child
May 8th, 1902: On the French Caribbean island of Martinique, the eruption of Mt. Pelée killed 30,000 people and obliterated the remarkable city of St. Pierre in only four minutes. The sole survivor was Auguste Cyparis, a prisoner in a thick-walled dungeon in the city jail. Severely burned, he languishes near death for three days, not knowing what has happened to the world around him. On the third day he was rescued by a search party.
The play depicts the tensions – political, racial, social –that were building in “The Paris of the West Indies” in Mt. Pelée’s shadow. These tensions parallel the pressures growing inside the mountain itself, and centrally, within Auguste Cyparis, either the most fortunate or the most pitiable of men.
Utilizing as a background the towering presence of Mt. Pelée, which Cyparis fears and with which he also identifies, and the rich Afro-French culture of Martinique, the play explores the psychological process that is this man’s response to catastrophe.
“Ms. Lebow has written a richly textured play that not only entertains with an irresistible tale of survival but evokes the sight, sounds and magical lore of the Caribbean isle.”
“Cyparis – See it!”
—The Atlanta Voice.
“This is Lebow’s most poetic work. Not only does she use Biblical imagery and that of the island’s African religion, she also depends upon the physical beauty of Martinique
to express her characters’ thoughts… (Cyparis) is arguably her best and most accomplished play.”
“Beautiful and engrossing, Barbara Lebow’s 'Cyparis' … is the finest play I’ve seen this
year, and Lebow’s strongest work yet.”