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Review: MARISOL from The Williams Project

Marisol shines with a stunning cast and crew

Review: MARISOL from The Williams Project
Miguel Castellano and Yadira Duarte in
The Williams Project's Marisol.
Photo credit: Michael B. Maine

There's a pandemic raging across the world, the streets are filled with Nazis, thugs, and the mentally unstable out for blood, and big corporations want to take away your livelihood and cast you out for not being able to pay your bills. No, I'm not talking about the reports from last night's 11 o'clock news but an all too familiar set of circumstances from a 1994 play, "Marisol" by José Rivera, currently being offered from The Williams Project. And while the circumstances of the play, as well as our own world, seem bleak, this outstanding production from the always amazing Williams Project can give us a little hope.

Brilliantly staged, outdoors at Equinox Studios, by director Ryan Guzzo Purcell, we follow the journey of Marisol Perez (Yadira Duarte), a young woman who has worked her way into a middle-class job although still lives in her sketchy Bronx apartment. Yet even the dangers of homicidal people on the subway and gun wielding women banging on the wrong door don't seem to threaten Marisol too much thanks to the efforts of her guardian angel (Porscha Shaw). But on a particularly bad night, her angel appears to her to tell her that she can no longer protect her as the angels are forming a coup to take over the Heavens from God who has grown senile. No longer under the angel's protection the harsh world keeps intruding in Marisol's life. She attempts to move in with a friend and co-worker June (Alyssa Franks) but June's volatile brother Lenny (Peter Sakowicz), who is fixated on Marisol, violently stops that plan, forcing Marisol out into the streets where she finds that the world is crumbling due to the war in the Heavens. Along the way she meets other people trying their best to survive as she tries to find her way in this new apocalypse.

It's certainly not the lightest of plays to present during our theater starved times but it is a perfect vehicle to show off the talents of The Williams Project. Purcell has assembled a top notch cast and imbued the piece with a sense of urgency as the audience is immersed into the world, largely thanks to the stunning set design from An-lin Dauber as well as Matt Starritt's sound design. And the play itself allows each member of the five-person cast to have their moments to shine, and they each run with those moments. Shaw takes the stoic angel and turns her into a powerhouse you cannot take your eyes off. Franks brings in a couple of terrific characters from the beleaguered sister to the lost and broken upper class lawyer who just purchased one too many purses on credit. Sakowicz brings in an oddly dichotomous character as Lenny who manages to be empathetic and terrifying all at the same time. And Miguel Castellano absolutely wows as a homeless burn victim with a performance that must be experienced.

But the show is called Marisol and Duarte commands the stage from the get go, a stage she rarely leaves. The journey she takes is a subtle one but, by the end, you can feel the growth in her as she exudes a kind of exhausted strength. And as the focal point of the show, she carries that burden with grace and vigor, guiding us through this insane world.

The world they present is uninviting, dangerous, and horrible but somehow by the end they show the hope of how our own world could become once we get past our own issues. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give The Williams Project production of "Marisol" a riveted YAY. And while it's true this is one of the few theatrical offerings we have available these days, we should feel lucky it's from these folks who consistently show what true professionals can do.

"Marisol" from The Williams Project performs at Equinox Studios through August 29th. For tickets or information, visit them online at

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