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a Drama
by Jose Rivera

COMPANY : Theatre Emory [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Mary Gray Munroe Theater [WEBSITE]
ID# 4702

SHOWING : April 02, 2015 - April 12, 2015



Rivera’s urban fantasia is set in post-apocalyptic New York. Marisol Perez’ world is in social upheaval because of a senile, inattentive God. This magical and highly charged comic play proposes a new world order of liberation and hope. Rivera is a recipient of two OBIE awards and an OSCAR nomination for his screenplay, "The Motorcycle Diaries."

Director David Crowe
Woman with Furs Christy Baggett
Angel Danielle Deadwyler
Man with Scar Tissue Travis D. Draper
June Veronika Duerr
Man with Golf Club Cameron Frostbaum
Lenny Brandon Partrick
Man with Ice Cream Geoffrey Solomon
Marisol Natalia Via
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Curiouser and Curiouser
by playgoer
Sunday, April 5, 2015
Jose Rivera’s "Marisol" tells the picaresque, dystopian tale of a Latina editor who suffers through the millennial period in which angels revolt against a senile God. It starts with a scene in which she might be killed and ends with a scene in which she might enter a new existence. In between, a lot of nasty things happen, both to Marisol and to the world.

The technical aspects of the production are brilliant. Leslie Taylor has designed a set consisting of a brick wall with multiple windows and doors upstage and with chain link, barbed wire-topped fenced areas stage left and right, decorated with road signs and hubcaps. Scenic artist Sara Culpepper has painted the bricks and graffiti on the set with artistic flair, and her props are varied and many. Mary Parker’s lighting design spotlights several sections of the stage and includes shadow and laser effects, with Brent Glenn’s sound design echoing many of the effects auditorily. It’s a stunningly complex design that works except in one respect – music continues on without break after the end of each act, robbing the show of immediate applause.

David J. Crowe has masterfully directed the professional and student actors to keep visual interest throughout, with clever blocking and emotional verity adding to the overall effect. Eight street people (augmented by the "Man with" actors) help to populate the stage during Marisol’s strange, disturbing journey. Movement coach Maia Knispel and fight choreographer John Evenden have added dance-like grace to the larger ensemble sections.

The play is filled with strong performances throughout. Cameron Frostbaum doesn’t make the playwright’s somewhat poetic words ring true in an early scene, but everyone else does a good job delivering the dialogue. Danielle Deadwyler is a wonderfully gritty angel (gloriously costumed by Alan Yeong) and the other professionals are working at the peak of their games. Natalia Via’s Marisol has perhaps fewer layers than the role could accommodate, but her performance carries the show throughout, gaining in power as she goes. The acting makes the show.

Rivera’s script has its problems. It’s evocative more than definitive, and its structure litters the first part of the second act with a series of unrelated adventures that set mood rather than add much new to the plot. There are a lot of uniquely skewed moments, many in the first act intended to elicit laughter, but they get grimmer and grimmer as the play proceeds. The production keeps the narrative going, but the second act is a bit of a slow slog until things get wrapped up. As I overheard another audience member say, it’s the type of show that would benefit from a study guide elucidating the action and discussing interpretations of the themes. This is a dense script, but the production values and acting do their utmost to make it palatable to a theatre-going audience. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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