Camino Real

In a new version by Calixato Bieto

camino real at the goodman theatre
Camino Real at the Goodman Theatre

and Marc Rosich

based on a play by Tennessee Williams

Directed by Calixro Bieto

Expressionist allegory of desperation fuels Bieto and Roscih’s take on Williams’ 1953 work.

Tennessee Williams’ dream scape play, Camino REal,  gets re-interruption by Spanish director Calixto Bieto and Marc Rosich. This 1 hour and 55 minute spectacle of desperate folks called by Williams: “the continually dissolving and transforming image of a dream”  is aone surprise after another. From the opening scene on a black box set with large screen cage, we find a drunken Tennessee Williams, aka ‘The Dreamer,’ (Michael Medeiros) staggering and vomiting on the stage as he drops into a stupor. The players then play out his dream.

camino real at the goodman theatre

The cast of misfits struggle in absurdists moments as they navigate the ‘royal road’ – the comino real in a Latin American country circa 1953.  Williams’ poetic language is present although convoluted by director Calixto Bieito surreal take on the dreams of these wondering folks. Forget realism here as metaphors, outrageous action, and absurd moments together with many sensual physicality dominate.  These expressionist characters are wonders in search of togetherness to thwart their loneliness as chance encounters lead to desperate acts.

camino real at the goodman theatre

We meet Jacques Casanova (David Darlow) as he interacts with Rosita (Barbara E. Robertson) an aging whore. Gutman (Matt DeCaro) narrates the dream sequences as the ex-boxer Kilroy (think WWII graffiti phrase “Kilroy was here”), (Antwayn Hopper) emerges as the focal point of much of the action. Bieito makes camino real mean ‘dead end’ for theses wonders.  The Gypsy (Carolyn Ann Hoerdemann), poet Lord Byron (Mark L. Montgomery) and the haunting zombie-like La Madrecita de los Perdidos (Jacquelin Williams) populate the stage as the groping, torture, and physicality pervade the dreams.

camino real at the goodman theatre

This long one act dissolves into a pageant of lewd acts, torture and cruelty that occupies us in a most enticing, albeit, dark manner. Although hard to follow at times, Camino Real is strangely intoxicating as we marvel at the cleverness and freshness as the haunting Spanish songs fuel the mood of melancholy.  We appreciate and admire the theatricality and stage craft of the players yet we become uneasy as the tedious story never seems to conclude. The colorful neon sings and the music interludes add depth and flavor to the piece but since we don’t have anyone to relate to,  the work dissolves into a large scale actor’s exercise.

I’m not sure who the audience is for this provocative work? Williams’ purists may be offended; lovers of expressionist and experimental theatre will rejoice; but storytelling lovers may be lost.  I think serious theatre patrons and young theatre artists need to see this play to experience the power, innovation, and craft of a fearless director. It is rare to witness actors having more fun doing the work than many audience members had seeing  it.

camino real at the goodman theatre

Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: march 12, 2012

For more info checkout the Camino Real page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL,  call 312-443-3800, www.goodmantheatre.org, tickets $29 – $79, Tuesdays thru Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm. Ssundaays at 7:30 pm, matinees on Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 1 hour, 55 minutes without intermission, through April 8, 2012