Director Adam Webster
Produced by Typanic Theatre Company
At the side project theatre
Weak script and shouting mare psychological drama
Playwright Joshua Mikel’s dialogue is salted with profanity that doesn’t sound like anything a male teen would say. This stilted unrealistic dialogue hurts what could be a worthy play. We meet Arturo (Chris Acevedo) and his pal Kay Kay (Paul E. Martinez) at a bull fight in a small town in Spain. Both teens dream of getting fame and fortune as the next great Spanish matador. When the black-masked matador La Muerte Negra gets gored to death in the bullring, Arturo believes that the matador was distracted by looking directing into his eyes instead of concentrating on fighting the bull. Arturo feels guilty for contributing to the matador’s death.
Kay Kay, ever Arturo’s friend and leader, loves to hangout with him as both talk of getting out of their small town as matadors. Arturo has fallen for Pumpkin (Carla Alegre), Kay Kay’s sister. The lovers keep their involvement secret from Ky Kay. When Pumpkin finds out that Arturo will be part of a contest to fight a bull to determine who will attend the matador school in Seville, she express her disdain for bullfighting.
Kay Kay, ever the braggadocios one, aggressively intimidates the seemly weaker Arturo into whatever adventure Kay Kay deems. A visit to a mortuary reveals that La Muerte Negra (Megan Tabaque) was actually a woman matador, a fact keep since she wore a black mask hiding her identity. Kay Kay almost gets violent with Arturo tells him that he is dating his sister. Kay Kay must control and protect everything in his world.
The play deals with physiological control, the nature of friendship and the struggle to fulfill one’s dreams that will either destroy or give opportunities to one’s future. We see one friend come unraveled and the other emerge strong as the play unfolds.
Muerte Del Maestro has moments of theatrical innovation – a 2-person bull costume comes to life and shadow puppets added flavor to the show despite the constant blackouts that slow the pace of the show. My biggest complaint – and this one is easily corrected – is why the actors feel they need to shout at the top of their lungs on such an intimate stage? Paul E. Martinez screamed so much my ears were hurting. At times, Acevedo shouted to display either his anger or his joy. Why do actors think volume is the best way to express emotions? In a small venue, it distracts from the play’s power and it irritates audience members.
The play has promise, the staging needs to be re-thought so as to cut down on the many blackouts and the actors must tone down the shouting. Chris Acevedo performance was worthy.
At the side project theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis, Chicago, IL, Call 773.973.2150, www.thesideproject.net, Ticket $15, student/industry $12, Sundays at 7 pm, Monday thru Wednesdays at 8pm, running time is 80 minutes without intermission, through December 22, 2010