Who knows what this play by Yasmina Reza at The Classic Stage Company is really all about? But who cares, when it’s so fascinating to watch this cast of characters, all actors in the titular A SPANISH PLAY about a family who act like they’re constantly in the throws of some catastrophic telenovella.
In fact, two of the sisters are actresses. As the famous movie star Nuria, Katherine Borowitz offers the evening’s eye candy. Deciding what she should wear to the Goya Awards (Spain’s version of the Oscars), she models a series of transparent frocks by costume designer Donna Zakowska. What she finally realizes looks shameless also bares all the trappings of beauty.
Although her sister Aurelia, played with dizzying realism by Linda Emond, isn’t having any success in her acting career, she is in rehearsal for a show. So, while Aurelia portrays one character in A SPANISH PLAY, she is playing another role in THE BULGARIAN PLAY. That brings us to yet another play you’ll get to watch in this jam packed 90-minute whirligig of a comedy drama directed by John Turturro. And If HE isn’t the queen of odd, Denis O’Hare might be. The Tony award winning actor of TAKE ME OUT here plays Aurelia’s alcoholic husband, an insignificant sort with a fondness for imitating others, especially those with catchy accents. Zoe Caldwell the family matriarch, naturally, plays the grand dame, a role she’s accustomed to playing. And Larry Pine as her romantic suitor hits the right note every time.
While the set by Riccardo Hernandez is basically bare, it’s bursting with color. Bright yellow for the walls and floor with stage-worthy displays of red, sometimes splashed against the wall like so much spilled blood. And the actors – projected images of Paul Newman, Peter O’Toole, Sophia Loren, you name it! Of course, the stars of A SPANISH PLAY also appear on video often discoursing about art and life in the theater. As Fernan, the suitor remarks, “Actors are VIPs. Everyone wants their opinions on immigration.”
As translated by David Ives from the original French, the production is rife with delicious dialogue and linguistic mind-twisters like “words are the parenthesis of silence.” But with all the “acting” that’s going on, you won’t be burdened by the need to interpret. They, the actors/characters offer several possibilities….loneliness, the passage of time, romance and, most importantly, the seduction of the theater.
Classic Stage Company 136 East 13 Street…1212 353-3101
Closing Sunday March 4, 2007