IU Dept. of Theatre and Drama: Marisol

“Marisol” at the Wells-Metz Theatre is Puerto Rican born playwright Jose Rivera’s Obie Award winning surreal account of a young Puerto Rican woman’s post apocalyptic odyssey in a tidily marshaled production directed by Sabrina Lloyd. Marisol played with an overall placid but worried assurance by Dawn Thomas is a lost soul. She’s been passing as a white bread middle class educated professional in Manhattan but each night she returns to the Bronx. Frankly, this gets some attention but it’s not a real factor in the plot. I mention it because Rivera thought it was important to include it in Marisol’s spiritual biography. 

In the play’s opening she’s headed home and she’s threatened by a subway crazy Jason Nelson as a Man with a Golf Club. It would be easy to write this off as a random event, but it’s just the beginning. Marisol’s cute leather clad butch guardian angel, with sadly too few appearances or development, played by Shauna Burris, announces that she’s leaving the guardianship to go kill an aging god. An angry woman yells at her door, but it’s the wrong apartment.  Her apartment actually is broken into and she’s threatened. She’s assaulted by an angry Man with Ice Cream played by Aaron Collins. Life is pretty dangerous and crazy.  

Meanwhile Manhattan and even the universe seem to be in tumult. The Empire State Building is in the wrong place, streets are confused, the sun is coming up in the south and the moon seems to be missing. In the midst of this Marisol seeks refuge with a sympathetic co-worker, June played by Erin Ehlers. June is ready to offer sanctuary and companionship, but her crazed brother Lenny played by Henry McDaniel III comes into the picture in a big way. He develops such a passion for Marisol that he actually becomes pregnant with her child. I’ve never personally gone through a delivery, but I thought his comically insightful birth agonies were very funny.   

There are more adventures to come as Marisol is counseled by Patrick Hercamp as a thoughtful Man with Scar Tissue. She helps her friend June who has become a homeless person burning Nazi regain her memory, and is then shot by a Woman with Furs, Sarah Fischer, who’s upset about credit card limits.  At the end, Marisol is returned to life and crowned by her returning though wingless guardian angel. Just why she should be returned to life or what it means is left to us to wonder about.

The production directed by Sabrina Lloyd moves briskly along on a set of dramatically cold metal and gratings by Hyunsuk Shin. It had the basic post apocalyptic feel. The only thing missing was a trash can burning in the back ground. Scott Anderson’s costumes are of the street types look real enough that I was surprised that we couldn’t smell them.  All music and sound effects are produced on stage. A quartet from the cast play instruments and sing. I enjoyed their acoustic rendition of “Penny Lane” as the second act began. 

Jose Rivera’s “Marisol” at the Wells-Metz Theatre continues through Saturday with evening performances at 7:30. There’s also a two o’clock matinee on Saturday.

George Walker

George Walker was born in Winchester, Virginia, and raised in Owl’s Head, Maine, and Valhalla, New York. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he came to Bloomington in 1966 and completed an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University. George began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Currently, along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists in a wide variety of areas and reviews plays and operas. He’s the proud father of grown sons Ben Walker (and his wife Elise Katzif Walker) and Aaron Walker. In his time away from WFIU, George enjoys an active life with wife Carolyn Lipson-Walker, singing, reading, exercising and playing guitar.

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