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Review: References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot (National Pastime Theater)

| July 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

Virginia Marie as Gabriella and Michael O’Toole as Moon in National Pastime Theater's "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot", part of the Naked July series, written by José Rivera, directed by Keely Haddad-Null.       
      
References to Salvador Dali
      Make Me Hot
 

Written by José Rivera
Directed by Keely Haddad-Null
National Pastime Thtr, 941 W. Lawrence (map)
thru August 11  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
         
           Read entire review 



     
       

Surrealist play makes time too rigid

     

Enesto Melchor as Benito and Virginia Marie as Gabriella, Virginia Marie as Gabriela, in National Pastime Theater's "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot", part of the Naked July series, written by José Rivera, directed by Keely Haddad-Null.  (Photo by Gia)

 

    
National Pastime Theater presents
    
References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot

Review by Keith Glab

José Rivera’s References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot headlines National Pastime Theater’s 4th annual Naked July: Art Stripped Down festival as its mainstage production.

Enesto Melchor as Benito and Virginia Marie as Gabriella, in National Pastime Theater's "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot", part of the Naked July series, written by José Rivera, directed by Keely Haddad-Null.  The interplay between these two animals is meant to parallel the relationship between Gabriela (Virginia Marie) and her husband Benito (Ernesto Melchor Jr.), a soldier about to return home from war. Benito is a wild and violent coyote, and these characteristics both attract and repel the stately Gabriela. Unfortunately, the dialogue also parallels what we hear from the animals. Both actors zip through the lines as though they are worried that there won’t be enough time to strike the set for the next play in the festival. Not only is nuance lost in favor of a more monotone delivery, but the many tonal shifts in the interactions between the couple are muddled as the actors rarely pause to take a beat.

Most of the action takes place in Gabriela’s dreams, as she plays out Benito’s return in her mind several times. Here, she also fantasizes about having an affair with a 14-year old neighbor (Nelson Rodriguez) and contemplates leaving her husband of 11 years. Rodriguez ably portrays the lovesick Martín, whose pursuit gives Gabriela another duality of emotion, as she both enjoys the attention and is reviled by the thought of betraying her man.

A male embodiment of the Moon (Michael O’Toole) also figures prominently in these dreams. O’Toole gives the celestial body an irresistible charisma and finds the humor in Rivera’s lines more successfully than any of the other actors do. Although he makes several references to Shakespeare labeling the Moon as inconstant, this is the most stable character in the play. Perhaps lured by this stability as much as the power and charm, Gabriela ultimately decides that when she wakes and her husband returns, she will decide whether or not to stay with him based on a simple question she asks him about the Moon.

Virginia Marie and Ernesto Melchor, Jr. - Naked Julyin National Pastime Theater's "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot", part of the Naked July series, written by José Rivera, directed by Keely Haddad-Null.Some of the more surreal physicality occurs when Benito paces awkwardly downstage during times when he is recalling upsetting moments from the war. His speech matches the tempo of his pacing here, but that tempo being used throughout the play by both he and Gabriela makes the rest of the play awkward to watch and harder to follow.

The narrative ultimately has little resolution, so our inability to fully appreciate the rich language in the script due to the hurried, often monotone speech becomes even more disappointing. There are enough successful moments to sustain interest, but perhaps counter-intuitively, the interest might be far greater if the same play were to run 15 minutes longer using the same script. It would then work well as a standalone event, rather than as part of a festival celebrating the naked body when nudity isn’t even integral to this particular play.

  
Rating: ★★
  
   

References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot continues through August 11th at National Pastime Theater, 941 W. Lawrence, 4th Floor (map), with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm.  Tickets are $20, and are available by phone (773-327-7077) or online at through BrownPaperTickets.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at NakedJuly.com(Running time: 75 minutes without intermission)

Nelson Rodriguez and Virgina Marie in National Pastime Theater's "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot", part of the Naked July series, written by José Rivera, directed by Keely Haddad-Null. References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot - banner, National Pastime Theater Naked July Michael O’Toole in National Pastime Theater's "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot", part of the Naked July series, written by José Rivera, directed by Keely Haddad-Null.

     

artists

cast

Alison Chemers (Cat), Virginia Marie (Gabriela), Ernesto Melchor Jr.  (Benito), Michael O’Toole (Moon), Cameron Peart (Coyote), Nelson Rodriguez (Martín)

behind the scenes

Keely Haddad-Null (director); Anna Lafontant (stage manager); Gary Shirmer (backdrop and body paint artist); Joe Loffing (lighting); Melissa Schlesinger (set design/props); Molly Kral (costumes); Jeffrey Levin (sound design); Jason Martin (dialect coach); R&D Choreography (violence design); Laurence Bryan (artistic director)

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Category: 2012 Reviews, Keith Glab, National Pastime Theatre, Theatre Festival

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