Thursday, November 14, 2013

Four plays Under One Umbrella by Resuscitation Theatre

For the past couple of months, I'd been looking forward to seeing how Resuscitation Theatre would implement the Saleh Karama scripts I had been reading with them over the summer. And this weekend, I finally saw those Arabic-language original plays premiere on stage, and in English - which is no small feat, considering that these plays are, for the most part, very metaphorical, and Arabic is often difficult to translate to English for even mundane purposes. I know, because I read all of them with the group, as we went over them, line by line, to refine the translation and find the best English equivalents. So, yes, I did go in knowing the plot for each play.

In fact, I had already seen One More Try on stage, in the same venue, in the summer. It was about the same this time, except with improved sound, and a markedly better performance by Prabhath Dhevindra. Betina had been re-cast as well, with Darcell Castillo adding a pleasantly fresh chemistry to the relationship between her character and Baya.

Sea Breeze, replete with allegorical lines and symbolic actions, must have been particularly difficult to adapt. I think it turned out very well, though, thanks to the directorial vision of Robert Liddington and whoever else was involved in production. It was very physical, with Sanoop Dinesh fitting well into his part. The use of props and colors was very creative; Dinesh's "healer jailer", interpreted as some kind of fabulous witch doctor, was a particularly brilliant touch.

From the reading sessions, my favorite script was Evening Chat, and I was not disappointed. Some of the lines did seem rushed and mechanically paced, but it was a good experience in sum. I especially liked Syed Sameer Ahmed's acting; he played the character of Sibran to perfection through all his character's transitions. The use of children's toys as physical symbols gesturing towards the past and the background of conflict was a good idea.

My expectations for Mobius were completely blown out of the water by director Zakaia Cvitanovich and the production team behind this interpretation. What I thought would be a dark, slow play, turned out to be an extravaganza of music, world dance, inflatable animal wrestling, and a human maypole. Splitting the character of Rima into five, each with a different actor, was definitely worth the additional cast management and blocking entailed by this idea. A surprise winner of a production is what it was.

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