Saturday, January 14, 2012

Don Pedro de la Cebolla

We've just passed a time of year where gifts of all sorts are given, received, desired and exchanged.  Sometimes we have a list of things we truly want or need but instead we get something else, something that falls short of our hopes for what might be hidden in the glittery wrappings and bows.  The same can be said of theater.  It is not the size of the venue, the ticket price, the opulence of the set or costumes nor star-names that determines the quality of a theatrical endeavor.  It is the simple, yet all too elusive merging of talent.  When you see it you know you are in the midst of a high quality production whether or not it contains the bells and whistles of a full blown Broadway show and often the best shows do indeed come in small, undistinguished packages.

Written with wit by Matthew Harrington and cleverly directed by Rachael Harrington  Don Pedro de la Cebolla is peppered with deft homages to the likes of Monty Python and Abbot & Costello while with extreme subtlety asking us to think (yes THINK!) about the state of our society, politics, court systems, patriotism, and even literacy.  Sounds a little heavy, doesn't it?  Well it's not.  In fact, the laughs simply do not stop, it is one of those wonderful pieces that are not just amusing but laugh out loud funny.

The six men of the cast are charming alternating silliness, confusion, sorrow and back again without missing a beat. And though all the action is set in one room, in the town of Piedra de las Rocas, this one act takes you on a quick trip around the world.  There are only five residents of the town and with Ben Sterling as a cartographer with no sense of direction; Emilio Cuaik as an endearingly innocent mortician who is squeamish about death; Justin Maruri as a gentleman who was "involved in the state prison system for some time" but at heart is an horticulturist; Mel Nieves as a lawyer with a sketchy history of client acquittals who sometimes regrets his ability to read; and Vincent Ticali as a woodworker who specializes only in toothpicks it's hard not to imagine Piedra de las Rocas as a version of the Island of Misfit Toys.  Pedro H. Rezende as the title character, Don Pedro, appears to be a pompous young man sent to Piedra de las Rocas to recruit this band of misfits on a quest for riches and glory (and ultimately the love of a princess) but is in fact the illegitimate son of the deceased King of Feotidus who has been banished from Court to keep him from claiming his birthright and has been put into the custody of the residents of Piedra de las Rocas for "the full term of his life as determined by local law and custom".  Oops.

Don Pedro de la Cebolla is a rare and lovely gift nestled in a modest package, a stunning jewel wrapped in brown paper and string.  The Interart Theatre Development Series and Royal Family Productions Emerging Directors Program is the Santa Claus delivering this gift.  And you will wish you had left him milk and cookies after seeing this wonderful play.  (Non-metaphorically, you really can do so, just make a donation here.) The quality is clear, and though this may not be the gift you were hoping for, you will find it is the one you really wanted all along.

Don Pedro de la Cebolla
The Interart Annex Theatre
500 West 52nd Street (at 10th Avenue)
New York, NY
January 16, 17, 18, 24 & 25 at 8:00pm
January 21 at 2:30 pm

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Saw it. LOVED it!!!