Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review- The Bridge (El Puente)- Stylus Theatre

"Surprisingly Real"- Andrea, 17
"I think I'm too hung over for this play..."- Anonymous Expat

The Bridge is the English premiere of Spanish poet, Jose Sevilla. He has lived in Hong Kong for several years but still loves to write about his homeland. The Bridge was his first foray into the playwriting world, it was first scene in Spanish at the Teatro Sala Muntaner Festival in 2000. I was told in college by a very wise professor that as an artist you need to see one play, see one movie or read a book every month or you're going to become a bad artist. I have not had the opportunity to see Spanish Theatre before. (Zorro does NOT count, sadly.) Spanish theatre is pretty much overlooked in the American Education system: we are taught about Lorca, Arebal and the almighty, Lope de Vega. But otherwise it's ignored. (Which I don't think is really fair, but I'm guessing it has something to do with the readability of credible translations in English.)

The bonus to this production was that 100 percent of the proceeds goes to an charity, Angels and Orphans. Any time you can see great theatre and help someone else you should. It's just WWJD! (word) Adam Harris directed, starred, did some of the designing and produced this piece with the lovely talents of Elizabeth Merendino helping him. The play is broken into two acts, which are kind of like one acts that are connected through the symbolism in the piece. There is a monologue in Act two about two sides of the same coin and it's basically seeing both sides of the coin.

When I asked Sevilla what the symbolism of the bridge in the play meant he said, "It's connecting to things that are opposite. Love and Death." The first act was all about torment and torture, there was a lot of sex in Act 1 but no love at all and the emotions were very raw. In Act 2, it was more about peace and it was very soft and peaceful compared to the first one. I would say the two opposites tied together by the bridge were Torment and Peace. It was a really lovely translation by Adam Harris. Sevilla said the play is very similar in it's original Spanish, just without the curse words. Apparently, Adam is the Picasso of the F bomb.
An example of a mantilla, which blocked most of my views in Act One and became a hated hat by the HL side.
Let's break it down into the Two Acts. Act One is called Love Lost and Act Two is called Love Recovered. The acting overall in both acts was EXCELLENT. It took incredible commitment to do a piece like this one. I personally, preferred the second act to the first act but it's just my opinion. Here's why. The first act the music and the sound effects were too loud. We had several moments in the show where we couldn't hear Liz speak. I was sitting on the HL side and often her mantilla would block her face so on top of not being able to hear her, I couldn't see her either. I know, the mantilla was a necessary costume piece and DEFINATELY needed for this play but because of the thrust arrangement of the MacAuley and the loud sound effects we had a hard time hearing Liz in the first act. Some times that mantilla would even block the HL side of the audience from seeing the other character. The actors could have angled themselves a little more in the space to help with sight lines, but that in a tiny detail in what is overall an excellent production. We had NO problems with hearing anything in Act Two, in fact I thought Act 2 was really beautiful and extremely well done. I also think that the lighting in Act Two was really beautiful, props to Andy Burt!

Now let's talk about the audience reaction, we had 7 people not return for Act 2. I'm not really sure why other than the anonymous audience member who told me he was very hung over and the loud speakers and flamenco dancing from Sol Y Flamenco were giving him a headache. It could have been sex scene in Act One as several people had their eyes almost come out of their heads at that moment. The school group stuck it out though! And overall had a positive reaction to the play. Poor Tommy I think was shocked into silence for the rest of the afternoon. Andrea, 17 applauded the actors on their realism.

Overall, a great show! And there is one show left! You have an hour and half to get down to Wanchai and buy a ticket! It's for charity!
Grade- A-
(Not giving you an A for the sound in Act One, sorry.)

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