Never short on innovation, Trinity Rep has turned to one of the masterpieces of Spanish theatre, “La Vida es Sueno,” or “Life is a Dream,” with a modern interpretation by Jose Rivera, presented in the style of a telenovela, or Spanish soap opera.
Rivera and Director Tatyana-Marie Carlo have chosen to parody Pedro Calderon de la Barca’s 1600s play to the nth degree, creating cartoonish characters in outlandish costumes (Shahrzad Mazaheri), and combining verbal and physical humor with some pretty heavy material.
Patrick Lynch’s set changes from dungeon to king’s palace as characters race around and behind, while stagehands pass them props.
The Spanish king (Anne Scurria), always on top of her role, plays the outlandish king whose mission is to save Spain from those nasty outsiders.
He sends his son (Daniel Duque-Estrada) to prison for 25 years before revealing his existence to him and the world.
Can Segismundo save the kingdom, or will he react with vengeance?
Or is this all a dream?
Will the king’s prophecies, based on the stars, prove false?
The tragicomedy is a metaphor for chaos, questioning whether or not life is but a dream.
Amidst profound questions raised, Rivera jumps from the sublime to the ridiculous. At one moment, we are dealing with issues raised by the world’s great philosophers. The next moment, we witness shades of the Three Stooges or Abbott and Costello. Characters are spitting their P’s in each other’s faces or trying to enter a narrow door in an oversized dress.
“Sueno” is like something you have never seen before. It will challenge you. It will make you think about honor, patriotism, reality and prompt more questions than you can absorb.
It will also cause a few giggles and groans.
Prepare yourself for a wild and crazy evening.
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