a tale of los ninos cinco
as a playwright and director, southside native bozquez is cooking up some startling and innovative drama. last month, we caught his maricela and the magic shoes, which was sweet and lyrical but in no way prepared us for this tale, which plays out like a dream in which the ugly reality of war is viewed through the eyes of children.
the plot's _very_ loosely based on the story of six teenage cadets who died defending chapultepec castle in mexico city against u.s. marines in 1847, but it comes to us filtered through the art of a troupe of vagabond players (in a time that could be in the past or the future -- such is the nature of legend) who recruit some village children to act out the story of los ninos heroes.
the vagabonds are outlaws in a world where magic and imagination are banned and ppl are forced to work in factories in the "grey towns" (a comment on the exporting of anglo culture, the state of the arts in bushamerica, or both? _you_ decide!). the horrors of war appear only abstractly, in the claps of thunder that punctuate the scenes, and as the monsters and night terrors of a child's imagination, but the children's "deaths" in the play-within-a-play are still chilling. the staging used the center aisle for entrances and exits, and the actors weren't afraid to milk a movement or gesture for laughs.
the cast was uniformly fine, with a number of standouts. as the leader of the vagabonds, adam justin dietrich inhabited the stage with a kevin kline-like range and presence, while adam dapkus' mostly-pantomime strongman showed how effective purely nonverbal communication can be. among los ninos, keanu ramirez (juan) and austin harnsberry (julio) were the most polished, but i particularly dug cruz serrano as juan's scared baby brother, litos. at the end of the piece, when dietrich's magician loses faith in the magical world (and his culture?), serrano reappears as if to remind him that it's through children that these things are sustained.
i'm becoming a fan of teatro de la rosa. their next production, robert nieto's comedy casa rio, starts january 20th. ya mo be there. maybe you, too?