Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Even better than the first time...Beauty of the Father, Burien Little Theater, Latino Theater Projects

The Weisenheimer and I are such theater nerds that, when we can manage it, we enjoy seeing productions we like more than once. Good art always has something more to say with each engagement, and all the more so with live theater, where it's never the same twice. We were richly rewarded seeing Beauty of the Father a second time, directed by Michael D. Blum at Burien Little Theatre and co-produced by Latino Theatre Projects, playing for one more weekend, through August 25.

Nilo Cruz has written a very wordy play (occasionally ponderously so) where, as the characters themselves declare at crucial moments, "Nothing has happened." Nevertheless, the Weisenheimer and I agreed that the drama has been dialed way up since we saw the play early in its run. The tension and emotions were simmering and from time to time spilling over as these fascinating characters created tenuous lifelines across the bumpy distances that divide them.
Santino Garcia plays the
Ghost of Lorca in Beauty
of the Father

The biggest revelation for me the second time through was the relationship between Lorca's ghost and Emiliano. This time I saw it as central to the play and the most interesting dynamic of all of them, with real chemistry between Lorca, played by Santino Garcia, and Emiliano, played by Fernando Luna. I found Garcia's portrayal moving and fascinating, expressing a wide range of emotions as Lorca tries to bridge his own early, violent death in a time and place that could not accept him with the powder keg of the family Emiliano has cobbled together. Garcia's ghost of Lorca is by turns exasperated, anguished, amused, angered, delighted, and moved by this unconventional family as he is relegated, like that other theater ghost father, to observing and exhorting. Given those limitations, he tries everything he can to inspire Emiliano to be his best self—lecturing, teasing, distracting, poking, provoking, comforting, advising, guiding, and finally, sacrificing. It was touching to see how Emiliano summoned and dismissed the longsuffering and unshakable ghost the way a boy might alternately turn to and reject a father he still needs as he tries to be grown up. To answer my own questions from my first review, Lorca is Emiliano's conscience, confidante, mirror, kin, idol, second self, trusted friend. Lorca has been "beckoned back to life" by Emiliano's art and imagination, and Emiliano is Lorca's hope for being the man that Lorca was born in the wrong time and place and died too young to be. They long for the best in each other and therefore themselves.

This one keeps getting better. Closing weekend will be great. "Go see a play." Make it this one.

1 comment:

Weisenheimer said...

It's really a marvelous show, and increased in marvelosity greatly since we first saw it a couple of weeks before. Well done, Michael, and hats off to a solid cast and a wonderful story.