What is it? A haunting, stage-struck love story that defies time, the natural order, and customary theatrical conventions. This show is back by popular demand. The actors have had a year to mull over its subtleties, but they'll have to work hard to recapture the fresh, lively feel of their past performances.
Why see it? This is PURE Theatre in its truest sense — a great tale performed by a small cast with minimal props and an invisible set. The stripped-down production means there's nothing to distract the audience from the acting and Jose Rivera's magical realist dialogue. Rivera's work has been favorably compared to the writing of Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. PURE has produced this show a couple of times to great acclaim, most recently at Piccolo Spoleto 2007.
Who should go? This one's for the lovers. Cloud Tectonics centers around the fascinating relationship between Anibal de la Luna and Celestina del Sol, played by real-life couple Rodney Lee Rogers and Sharon Graci. Luna and Sol's adventures are by turns bizarre, intriguing, and out-and-out romantic.
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $25 • 1 hour 30 min. • June 3-7 at 7:30 p.m. • Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St. • (888) 374-2656
With Piccolo Spoleto upon us, it's surprising to learn that PURE Theatre has only been rehearsing Cloud Tectonics for a couple of weeks.
This is a show full of emotionally complex moments. It requires audience members to stretch their imaginations, with the actors conjuring set pieces out of thin air (there's no set dressing and only a couple of props). It's an out-there acting challenge, even by contemporary standards.
Has PURE lost its work ethic? Is the five-year-old company acting its age?
The short rehearsal period is a necessary evil caused by actor and director availability, along with the performers' confidence in the material. After all, they've done the show before, in their fourth season and during Piccolo 2007.
The lines of the play are stuck in their heads like primal poetry. All they have to do is put the play back on in a new venue and recast one role.
How much rehearsal time could that possibly require?
In a nutshell, Cloud Tectonics is a boy-meets-girl story. A hardworking man picks up a bedraggled hitchhiker on his way home. Back at his house, the pregnant hitchhiker fascinates him with her strange perspective on the world. His infatuation grows — until his brother turns up to shatter the magic.
But the play is more than a traditional love story, thanks to the careful writing of playwright Jose Rivera. The boy and girl are named Anibal de la Luna and Celestina del Sol, drawn together like celestial bodies in an ever-spiraling orbit. Celestina exists out of time, losing track of previous relationships and the date of her baby's conception. Clocks stop. A night lasts two years in Celestina's mesmerizing stride.
As before, Sharon Graci will play Celestina del Sol. The PURE co-founder is fresh from a stint on Army Wives (presumably one of the reasons for the short rehearsal time). Her performance is the bedrock of this show; last year, she made her character a hauntingly beautiful pleasure to watch.
Anibal de la Luna is played by Rodney Lee Rogers, also appearing in Eurydice and The Tragedian (another reason for the stripped-down rehearsals). Music will be provided by guitarist Michael Moran. May Adrales will direct. Matt Bivins, who has played Anibal's brother Nelson, is moving to Chicago. PURE regular David Mandel will take Bivins' place.
The other major change is the space.
PURE has left its black box space in the Cigar Factory, its home of five years, now that the downtown building is being turned into condos, shops, and offices. Cloud Tectonics will be produced at the equally intimate Circular Church instead, with the same alley seating configuration on either side of the performance area.
Rogers' main concern has been transferring the play wholesale to a new place. "We had to research how to draw on the floor in the church," he says, referring to the lack of furniture in Anibal's house (there are mere outlines instead).
"We're trying to keep the simplistic beauty of the piece." —Nick Smith