Friday September 22nd 2017

“Camino Real”

I have always loved the work of  Tennessee Williams and his deep down look into the hearts and souls of his characters. One of his rarely seen plays, “Camino Real” ( Spanish for Royal Road) is now onstage at The Goodman Theatre, but not as it has been done before.This is a whole new look as written and re-imagined by Calixto Bieito and Marc Rosich, one that is far more visual and sexual than the original, and instead of speaking to the loneliness and the search for love, takes us down a path that is hard to digest. All of the characters are seeking love, but in this version, it appears that sex is far more important than love- sex with anybody with no true feelings of finding the love they are lacking.

The characters in the story are familiar fictional characters, such as Don Quixote, Casanova and Lord Byron as well as the infamous Kilroy ( from the expression, “Kilroy was here!”. They are all in a mythical town in a Latin American country where the “spring of Humanity” has gone dry. The Dreamer ( a solid performance by Michael Mederios) appears to represent Williams himself as he places his own characters alongside those of fame. Each character in this play is lonely and wants nothing more than to leave this hell-hole, this place of nothingness where people are eaten up by the others and where bodies are hauled off as if they were nothing. Kilroy( an amazing, energetic performance by Antwayn Hopper), an American, finds himself caught up in this town and spends most of his time trying to escape the mayhem that surrounds him.

Directed by Bieito, who has assembled a cast of actors that are some of Chicago’s finest, I must say that this is not a play that is for the masses. Even those who love The Goodman , found themselves wondering just why this production was done. Bieito has been called a “shock merchant” and this production is filled with plenty of shock. Many sexual situations and forms of undress and rape as well as murder are part of this production, so it certainly is not one for those who are seeking an entertaining night out. This story will cause you to think, but of things you don’t think about on a regular basis. I found the story-line hard to digest and while the music was amazing ( Andrea velis Simon as musical director), the lighting astounding(James F. Ingalls) the sound and composition (Richard Woodbury’s musical compositions did help to make the 1 hour and forty-five minutes of non interrupted mayhem more plausible) and the costumes by Ana Kuzmanic were both stylish and worked into the story. There is no mention of the prop people in the production notes, and whoever handled this should get an award for all the work to create all of the “stuff” that is needed to keep the flow of the action.

As I said, the cast is one that any theater would be lucky to have on their stage: David Darlow, Matt DeCaro, Andre de Shields, Marilyn Dodds Frank,Carolyn Ann Hoerdemann, Travis A Knight, Monica Lopez,Mark L. Montgomery, Jonno Roberts, Barbara E. Robertson, Jacqueline Williams in addition to Mr. Hopper and Mr. Medeiros- all terrific!. This is a wild and energy filled production, one that each actor must enjoy doing or it would never work for them. In fact, I truly think they may have enjoyed doing it more that many audience members enjoyed watching them. Be prepared for some very tense scenes in this production and if you know the work, be prepared to see it from a different angle and perspective.

“Camino Real” will continue at The Goodman Theatre located at 170 N. Dearborn through April 8th with performances as follows:

Tuesdays(except 3/20),Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. ( except 4/1 and 4/8)

Matinees are at 2 p.m. on Thursdays ( except 3/22), Saturdays ( from 3/24) and Sundays.

Tickets range from $29-$79 and are available at the box office, by phone at 312-443-3800 or online at www.GoodmanTheatre.org

Day of show discounts: 10Tix ( $10 tix for students) and MEZZTIX ( half price mezzanine)

 

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