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Invierno: Magical adaptation brings “A Winter’s Tale” to life

Review June 06, 2015 Bridgette Redman

Article:9795; Posted: June 6, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Mysticism and magic have always been a part of “A Winter’s Tale,” and it is doubly true of the adaptation, “Invierno,” that The American Shakespeare Collective is launching this week.

Written by Jose Cruz Gonzalez, the adaptation is set in California, starting in the present and then moving back to 1813, pre-statehood, when the land still belonged to Mexico. The language is not Shakespeare’s, nor is it only modern English. The play uses several languages, including Spanish, Samala, Russian and Finnish. While there are no supertitles, it is usually clear enough what is being said even if the exact words are unknown.

Set on a representational stage, designed by Director Tommy Gomez, the tall sweeping set pieces dwarf the actors and set them into motion in a world where there are forces larger than them at work.

The story begins with a young woman (Sara Anne Ostrowski) and young man (Travis Stanton Morreno) arguing about a crisis in their life. She is ready to kill herself, and chooses a tree for the task that stands on sacred ground. A Chumash Indian from the past appears, Paulina (Katie Doyle), who tells them the future is not yet set and takes them back in time to where they become characters in the retelling of “The Winter’s Tale,” all while still trying to figure out their own lives and relationship.

Ostrowski and Morreno have high energy, while Doyle is ethereal and earthy at the same time. She is priestess and shaman, singing songs in a language that has been dead for 100 years. All three lend urgency to the story; they are the only ones who “see” things playing out before them. All the others are actors in the story and know nothing of the travel through time. Ostrowski and Morreno become players in the tale they are witnessing, but it continually comes as a surprise to the young woman and man when people address them as the various other characters they play.

Gomez, in addition to directing and set designing, plays the lead role of Don Leon, the owner of the ranch and the jealous husband who is convinced that the pregnant Hermonia (Kelly Mizell) and Don Patricio (Kristo Salminen) are committing adultery and betraying him. All three own the stage in their own ways. They are strong vocally and physically. The chemistry between Mizell and Salminen is such that it is easy to see why Don Leon is suspicious of them.

Another pair that was a treat to watch was Johanna Kokko as Vaquero and Mark Gmazel as Afilado. They were the clowns in this tale and performed the roles admirably with great humor both physical and vocal.

I saw a preview performance of this production that suffered from a lack of director in the audience to let actors know when they were being too soft vocally. There were several instances, especially in the very beginning, where even from the front row, one had to strain to hear what was being said. There were also issues with pacing where actors needed to be sharper about picking up their cues.

It is a play that takes a lot of trust on the part of the audience. It is magical realism and the audience must be willing to accept those things which are taking place that depart from realistic storytelling. The set and lighting contribute to the mood, all of which prepares the audience for the play’s genre.

Run time: 7 p.m. to 9:05, one 15-minute intermission.

SHOW DETAILS:
Invierno
The American Shakespeare Collective
Dart Auditorium (LCC Campus), 500 North Capital, Lansing
June 4-7, 2015; Thursday at 7:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
$20.00/$15.00 seniors and veterans/$12.00 students
www.americanshakespearecollective.com.

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