Reviewed by Senior Arts Critic Dale Reynolds
Surreal is not really my bag. The idea in Art that one thing represents some other, more tangible, thing doesn’t usually compute with me – in truth, I prefer nuts-and-bolts kitchen-sink drama, ideally with emotional highs and lows. But every now-and-again some piece of theatre comes along that isn’t obtuse or so mired in deep-dark symbolism that it’s meaning can only be badly guessed at. Nilo Cruz’ powerful Lorca in a Green Dress, at Casa 0101 in Boyle Heights is one of those plays
Beautifully realized by director Jennifer Sage Holmes, this sparse and fierce production coming in at 90 minutes with intermission, is an acutely observed look at the moment the famous/infamous Spanish surrealist playwright, Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Garcia Lorca was murdered by Spanish fascist thugs in 1936 near the start of their disastrous civil war that presaged World War II.
Upon receiving his mortal wounds, his active imagination kicks in so that he allows himself to explore his shortened life in the “Lorca Room,” in Purgatorio, where he must spend 40 days of mourning – and if he leaves before the end of the time, he will wander the earth as an ineffectual ghost.
As a gay man of his day, hiding his sexuality amid fears of jail, suffering shame and annoyance with the life he was subjected to, he was able to travel, coming from money as he did. The artistic visits to London, Paris and New York helped him grow as a writer, composing poetry and plays based on his passionate advocation of a Theatre of Social Action.
So, men and women – straight and gay, gypsy and non – represent the murdered artist in his dying moments, killed as much for his homosexuality as for his leftist political ideals.
Holmes has cast it extremely well: Adrian Gonzales is the corporal Lorca, Alex Polcyn is Lorca in a Green Dress, Rajesh Gopie is Lorca in a White Suit, Teresa Meza, Carmelita Maldonado, and Josh Domingo are others who portray the poet in fleeting dance, song or speech. It’s really well acted, especially with Serafín Falcón as a chillingly officious Spanish Army General.
While not “scary” in the more dramatic sense, the humiliation that Spaniards in general and Lorca in particular had to put up with from their tyrannical leaders is clearly shown. Using Flamenco melodies and rhythms (Gerardo Morales on Guitar and Alejandra Flores, the dancer, music by Christopher Davis), the staging, costumes (Monica French), set design (un-credited), Willy Donica’s area lighting, Rocio Ponce’s choreography, and the tech crew (Jorge Villanueva, Eugenia Sevilla, Dante Carr), make this a spectacular success.
Lorca in a Green Dress runs through August 25th, 2012 at Casa 0101, 2102 East First Street, Boyle Heights, CA 90033. Tickets: 323.263.7684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.