Thursday, February 23, 2017

LaMama In Association With Magis Theatre Presents "Calderon's Two Dreams" - Through February 26th

There is a fascinating show running at LaMama's Ellen Stewart Theatre at 66 East 4th Street that you will not want to miss.  Act fast, for it closes this Sunday, February 26th. The play is "Calderon's Two Dreams," produced in association with Magis Theatre.

The play is based on two works by 17th century Spanish playwright Pedro Calderon de la Barca. "Life Is A Dream," first performed in 1635, deals with a Polish prince who has been imprisoned by
his father. Prince Segismundo is briefly released, goes on a rampage, and is re-incarcerated. His father tries to convince him that all that has been going on has been a dream. The main themes are
the conflict between fate and free will, and the nature of reality and our awareness of it. The play is very much an allegory that allowed the playwright to address changes taking place in Spain in terms of how people viewed the evolving relationship between faith and the state.

The second act of "Calderon's Two Dreams" is a classic morality play, telling the story of Creation and the Fall. Human characters, representations of Nature personified, and a Trinity of Power, Wisdom, and Love interact with Man, helping him to answer his question about who he is, where he came from, and why he has limitations. Imaginative puppetry helps in the telling of this stylized story. The production includes original music composed by the late Elizabeth Swados, who collaborated with Director George Drance in developing this project beginning 20 years ago. This second play, written much later in Calderon's life, looks again at human freedom through the eyes of age and wisdom. This production is the first time that these two Calderon plays have been performed together as a single piece.

The talented and energetic ensemble members play multiple roles in these two plays. They are:
  • Danielle Delgado as Shadow
  • Margi Sharp Douglas as Estrella/Water
  • Erika Iverson as Horn/Air
  • Leslie Lewis as Soldier/Wisdom
  • Joe McGranaghan as Astolfo/Free Will
  • Tsebiyah Mishael as Grace
  • Gilbert Molina as Segismundo/Fire
  • Gabriel Portuondo as Clotaldo/Earth
  • Rachel Murdy as Servant 1/Understanding
  • Ali Kennedy Scott as Servant 2/Prince of Darkness
  • Dan Solomon as Man
  • Ashley Setzler as Rosaura/Love
  • Dennis Vargas as Basilio/Power
The creative team includes Choreography by Shikego Suga, Set by Caitlyn Murphy, Lighting by Alex De Nevers, Costumes by Siena Zoe Allen, Puppet Design by Ashley Setzler and Jane Catherine Shaw, Music Direction by Uri Frazier.

Dan Solomon as Man with the Ensemble  
"Calderon's Two Dreams"
Magis Theatre Company
Ellen Stewart Theatre
Through February 26th
Photo by Theo Cote

I left the play intrigued, energized and inspired. I encourage you to make your way to the East Village between now and Sunday to catch one of the final performances of this unique treasure.

Magis Theatre Website



Boston Playwrights' Theatre Presents "The Honey Trap" by Leo McGann - Through February 26th

'Tis the season for Irish playwrights to challenge and to delight Boston audiences. ArtsEmerson has given us the Druid Theatre Company's stellar production of Martin McDonagh's "The Beauty Queen of Leenane." A few miles down Commonwealth Avenue from the Theater District, Boston Playwrights' Theatre takes us to Ulster for "The Honey Trap," a new play by Leo McGann.

I had a strong personal visceral reaction this play and its subject matter - The Troubles and their aftermath. I first visited Northern Ireland and Belfast in the summer of 1968, when the Rev. Ian Paisley was spouting his sectarian venom that helped to inflame passions and violence between Protestant and Catholic neighbors. "The Honey Trap" revisits those troubled times, and toggles between the height of the conflict in 1979 and then forward in time a few decades to see what has become of some of the characters whose lives were forever changed by the events that happened one night in a Belfast pub.

Two off-duty British soldiers are sharing a pint in a pub when two Irish lasses (Maggie Markham and Grace Georgiadis) begin to flirt with them. One thing leads to another, and Bobby (Ben Swimmer) goes home with them, while Dave (Conrad Sundqvist-Olmos) returns to the barracks. Bobby was killed that night by IRA assassins, and Dave spends the next several decades trying to come to grips with the decisions that he and Bobby made that night. The older Dave (Barlow Adamson) eventually brings himself to do some deep research, and tracks down one of the young women who had set the "honey trap" that led to Bobby's death. She now calls herself "Sonia" (Maureen Keiller) and runs a small coffee shop. Sarah Whelan rounds out this excellent cast in the role of Kirsty.

Conrad Sundqvist-Olmos as Young Dave
Ben Swimmer as Bobby
The Honey Trap" by Leo McGann
Boston Playwrights' Theatre
Through February 26th

In a reversal of the ploy that the young women had used in 1979, Dave lures Sonia into a relationship, and then springs the trap, revealing who he really is. He pulls a gun, and tension reaches a fever pitch. The acting in this pivotal scene by Ms. Keiller and Mr. Barlow is powerful and cathartic. There is a memorable moment in this scene that evokes memories of the encounter in "Goodwill Hunting" between Robin Williams' character of professor and Matt Damon's character of his struggling young student. Also standing out in this cast are Mr. Swimmer as Bobby and Mr. Sundqvist-Olmos as young Dave.

Maureen Keiller as Sonia
Barlow Adamson as Dave
"The Honey Trap" by Leo McGann
Boston Playwrights' Theatre
Through February 26th
This cast is aided by strong direction from Adam Kassim, Scenic Design by Jeffrey Petersen, Sound Design by J Jumbelic, Lighting Design by Evey Connerty-Marin and Costume Design by Stephanie K. Brownell.

Although the action of the play is specific to the Ulster Troubles and their aftermath, the themes of revenge, regret, and reliving past decisions are universal.

This excellent new play runs through this Sunday, February 26th at Boston Playwrights' Theatre. Do not miss it.

Boston Playwrights' Theatre Website