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Cruz's 'LORCA IN A GREEN DRESS' Receives A Small Yet Focused Premiere at the Halcyon

When you walk into the Berry United Methodist Church, home of the Lincoln Square Theatre where Halcyon Theatre is staging LORCA IN A GREEN DRESS, you walk into a quintessential off-off-Loop performance space: 70 or so person black box studio space, below a church, with honor-system cookies in hand.  Before LORCA IN A GREEN DRESS begins, your are encouraged to visit the pay-what-you-will concession stand and relax in the church's couched lounge.  It is a relaxing, communal, and homey atmosphere, shed of the over-glossed pomp at, say, the intersection of Randolph and LaSalle.

Enough on the atmosphere, on to the show.  Nilo Cruz (Pulitzer Prize winner for ANNA IN THE TROPICS) has constructed an oddly engaging and poetically engulfed memory play in LORCA IN A GREEN DRESS.  After arriving in the "Lorca Room," newly assassinated Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca must face different incarnations of himself.  Lorca Covered in Blood (Carlos Rogelio Diaz) must confront his poetic life and historical mortality in this purgatorial waiting room.  Throw in a gaggle of angels forced to portray Lorca's different personas and a dash of flamenco dancing & you get a taste of the highly theatrical world of LORCA.  For a good chunk of Act 1, the audience is as out of the "what's going on?" loop as Lorca Covered with Blood, but Cruz's poetic world and the actors' dedication to the piece keeps you intrigued and engrossed throughout his journey.

Carlos Rogelio Diaz (Lorca Covered in Blood) thrusts Cruz's play into motion, offering moments of explosive confusion and subtle sympathy.  LORCA's leading man and supporting players create a surreal world of moonlight and memory, and the haunting reality, and differing variations, behind Federico Garcia Lorca's death. Cruz's script is, overall, surreally spellbinding in its use of beautiful imagery and actor-based humor.  Lorca in a Green Dress (Miguel Nunez) and Lorca in a White Suit (Greg Wenz) are the strongest versions of Lorca, portraying Federico's young infatuation with painter Salvador Dali with boisterous commitment and heart-breaking sadness.  The Guards (Kevin Carroll and Erica Hernandez) serve as menacing and stern puppet masters, giving the performers (and the audience) their 10-minute breaks, annoucing which scene is to be played, and offering the rules of the game, as it were (though Carroll pushes a little too much in his role).  Balancing the show out with her sublimely ghostlike presence is the Flamenco Dancer, played by Terri Lopez.  Lopez is dedicated and poised with each and every movement, from cradling a lost Lorca to simply sitting on her onstage bench.  She and guitarist Mike Chuchna add a sophisticated Spanish flare to the evening.

Within Cruz's world, we know yes, this is a troupe of actors and yes, we are watching a play under a church, but director Juan Castaneda has made very much of the Lincoln Square Theatre's tiny space.  The moon, thanks to an innovative lighting design by Ellen Moore, casts a ghostly and forlorn shadow over Halcyon's performers several beautiful moments throughout the show.  LORCA IN A GREEN DRESS is a fascinating way to look at the life (and afterlife) of an artist, a poet, a lover, a dancer, a woman, a man covered in blood, and a boy in bicycle pants.


PHOTO by Tom McGrath
From L to R: Miguel Nunez, Carlos Rogelio Diaz, Adam Dobbs, Terri Lopez, Nilsa Reyna, & Greg Wenz.

LORCA IN A GREEN DRESS runs in rep with A SHROUD FOR LAZURUS at The Lincoln Square Theatre through Saturday, October 3rd.  For tickets, call 773.413.0453 or visit www.halcyontheatre.org


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From This Author William Panek