nytheatre.com review by Saviana Stanescu
October 6, 2006
Dreamscape Theatre, founded in the summer of 2002 by a pair of drama students from New York University's Playwrights Horizons Theatre School (Brad Raimondo and Gerritt Turner) is a young and ambitious theatre company determined to find its niche in the oh-so-rich performing arts landscape (or dreamscape...) of New York City. Last season, Dreamscape produced its first annual festival season at Manhattan Theatre Source. This month, the hard-working, dynamic ensemble presents its second annual festival, featuring three full-scale mainstage productions running on a rotating schedule.
The new home of these active yet grounded dreamers is the newly renovated Hudson Guild Theatre, where I saw Marisol by Jose Rivera on the Columbus Day weekend.
Julie Alexandria is very touching as the title character of this Obie Award-winning play from 1993. This apocalyptic drama chronicles the story of Marisol Perez, a 26-year-old Puerto Rican woman living in the Bronx. A college graduate working in a publishing house that specializes in science books, pretty Marisol leads a routine life, plodding from her home to her Manhattan office and back again each day, on the same subway route. Her existence changes abruptly when her guardian angel (wonderfully portrayed by Brittany Manor)—who recently saved her from attacks by a crazy man with a golf club—informs her that the angels are planning a rebellion against God. The dark sexy punk angel also tries to enlist her aid in the revolt, but she refuses.
Dream or reality—Marisol can't be sure, as she can't be sure whether she's dead or alive, as people seem to die but appear again in a different scene in this surreal play where the entire world has gone mad, violent, and chaotic.
With the heavens turned up-side down by "angelic" war, social stability and natural order rapidly begin to deteriorate on Earth. People stumble along alone and unprotected; Neo-Nazis target the homeless and burn them alive; the sun fails to rise; the moon has disappeared; acid rain falls; apples are extinct; and men become pregnant and give birth to dead babies. Like the other poor mortals suffering without assistance from Above, Marisol does her best to survive, learning the jungle-rules, and trying to make sense of the insane circumstances of the post-post-modern plague.
I wish I could say that Shaun Peknic's direction brings the intensity and the force of Rivera's play onto the stage, but that wouldn't be true. The actors portray their characters with honesty and professionalism, but the play fails to "fly" in this production. Hannah Davis's un-imaginative set doesn't help Dreamscape's Marisol to take off, although David Withrow's costumes provide some wonderful wings.
However, people should go see Rivera's play at Hudson Guild Theatre for the beautiful writing and a few actors who deliver notable performances: sweet and balanced Julia Alexandria (Marisol), mysterious and stunning Brittany Manor (Angel), striking Christine Verleny (June), and funny Kent Meister (Lenny/Man).