Saturday, October 20, 2007

PLAY: "Spain"

The only thing I could say after seeing Spain, mouth agape with the time I'd just wasted was: "Really?" To which I could only answer, of course not; Spain is fantasy masquerading as allegory (except Jim Knable doesn't have anything to say, just plenty with which to play). One doesn't learn anything from Barbara (a gleefully unnerving Annabella Sciorra) conjuring a Conquistador (a mustache-twirling Michael Aronov) from her repressed Freudian psyche (the script has a more lavish description, but this is all I remember). Certainly nothing about how she feels for the husband who just left her (Erik Jensen), now just a punchline waiting to be run through with a sword, nor why she hangs with the dour, aptly named Diversion (Veanne Cox). Director Jeremy Dobrish has them run through a series of hoops, wasting Lisa Kron on a series of exaggerated one-liners (she plays a self-aware mystic), and even when the acting soars, the fantasy fails. The set hinges open to reveal the "golden heart" of Spain . . . and it's what looks like golden aluminum foil, wallpapered into some minimalist vista. At one point, Distraction reveals her own longing, then bites into a big, unpeeled orange, lets the juice drip down her face, and exits. (Sanity exits stage left.) Knable's thrilling comic momentum promises the exotic but quickly fizzles out into the mundane neurotic.

I'll say this for MCC Theater, however: they've got a discount offer (Jaime speaks better about all the discounts currently out there) called $20 under 30. It's unfortunately still a rush, much like the occasional Off-Broadway 20at20 deal, but at least the whole two hours in advance bit gives you enough chance to swing somewhere else if, for some reason, Spain is sold out. These are the right initiatives and steps for building an audience (and getting loyal fans), and Spain is very much a show for younger audiences (it just happens to rub me the wrong way). It's just a shame that MCC (which already does great work with its Youth Company -- [disclosure] I was a member) is getting beat by other large Off-Broadway discounts, like NYTW's $20 Sundays (or SoHo Rep's insane $.99 Sundays). Still, steps in the right direction, no?

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