'3 Kinds of Exile' review: Intriguing Guare

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From left, David Pittu and Omar Sangare in

From left, David Pittu and Omar Sangare in Atlantic Theater Company's world premiere of "3 Kinds of Exile" by John Guare. Photo Credit: Kevin Thomas Garcia

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After all these decades, we still never know where John Guare and his restless, altogether original mind are going to take us. "3 Kinds of Exile" -- based on three real stories of Polish people derailed by the Nazis and/or the Cold War -- turns out to be one third revelatory, one third beguiling and the last third, well, perplexing.

The treasure is "Elzbieta Erased," in which Guare (in his Off-Broadway acting debut) and a startlingly expressive actor named Omar Sangare stand at lecterns to present the unlucky American career of one of Warsaw's star actresses. What sounds like an academic structure is, instead, a vibrant, multileveled portrait of a woman who needs to be known.

The opening playlet is a monologue in which the very engaging Martin Moran tells what turns out to be a chilling little ghost story about an actor who left Poland as a child in 1939. The third, "Funiage," is an exaggerated expressionist cabaret about a sad-sack writer (the heroically conscientious David Pittu) conscripted to sail to Argentina to talk up Polish culture to emigres while Hitler invades their country. It is inspired by the works of Witold Gombrowicz, and claims to be about the "greatest unknown Argentine writer in Poland in the '30s." The story may be fascinating, but the absurdist-fable style is tiresome.


WHAT "3 Kinds of Exile"

WHERE Atlantic Theatre Company, 336 W. 20th St.

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INFO $70; 866-811-4111; atlantictheater.org

BOTTOM LINE Two kinds of interesting

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