Caridad Svich attempts a "graphic novel for the stage" with De Troya | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Caridad Svich attempts a "graphic novel for the stage" with De Troya 

The result is neither graphic nor novel, only a sluggish, muddy blur.

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click to enlarge de_troya-7.jpg

courtesy Halcyon Theatre

To call a work of theater a "graphic novel for the stage," as playwright Caridad Svich does in the preface to her script for De Troya, implies a couple of things: (a) a heavy emphasis on dynamic visual storytelling, and (b) some novelistic character development—maybe something that takes advantage of the illustrated medium's lack of limitations when it comes to fantasy. The degree to which Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary's Halcyon Theatre production delivers on those varies from recognizable but off the mark to downright inscrutable.

A young woman, Mara (Valeria Rosero), absconds with her knife-wielding, perpetually shirtless lover, Gusty (Arik Vega), to the horror of her conservative and devout guardian aunts Lena and Lupe (Tamika Lecheé Morales and Isabel Quintero). A hypnotic, demonlike river creature wreaks havoc on Mara and her family's lives, testing each character's faith and ultimately revealing secrets linking the present with the past.

Carrasco-Prestinary's production relies on projections by Mark "Trace" Umstattd and blocking seemingly based on a pattern of tics for its visual storytelling, and the result is a sluggish, muddy blur. Lena neurotically washes dishes and ladles soup in one corner; Grandpa slams down Tecate and murmurs at the TV in another; the river lady appears stage center and howls. Repeat.

Over the course of two hours, those directions and an endless parade of groans and wails make for a somber picture of misery. One highlight: a tightly constructed monologue delivered by Noe Jara as Grandpa about an ill-fated pet.   v

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