BWW Reviews: Sound Theatre Company's THE ILLUSION Brings Truth to Magic

BWW Reviews: Sound Theatre Company's THE ILLUSION Brings Truth to Magic

I don't think many would disagree when I say Tony Kushner is one of theater's most incredible playwrights with his amazing gift for language.  And his adaptation of Pierre Corneille's 17th century tale "The Illusion" is no different with its poetic dialogue and gloriously surreal arc from melodramatic to stark truth.  And Sound Theatre Company's production of this magical piece, for the most part, understands and delivers the beauty of that arc.

Pridamant (Gianni Truzzi) has one thing in life he regrets, turning out into the world his son (Matt Fulbright).  So now in his old age he turns to the magician Alcandre (Eva M. Abram) to reveal to him what has become of his son in the hopes to ease his guilty conscience.  But what he sees is an ambiguous journey of love, betrayal and death that leaves him more confused than placated. 

Let me start by saying that the set by Bryan Boyd and Suzi Tucker and the projections by Tucker are nothing short of a triumph.  From the instant you walk into the theater you are transported into a dark and spooky cavern and the utilization of the projections not only to provide locales but also to accentuate moments works perfectly.  So often people go too far with the projections but that is not the case here.  And director Teresa Thuman has incorporated these elements into the world so well that they are never jarring or out of place. 

Each performer has their moment or moments to shine in the show and most grab onto them and run.  Fulbright is the one constant throughout and although his character grows he remains the swoon-worthy Casanova that you can't take your eyes off.  Equally entrancing is the love struck maiden played by Elinor Gunn although she is afforded some further dramatic moments and she tackles them with aplomb.  Alex Garnett shows off his incredible versatility as he goes from foppish suitor to violent hot head to betrayEd Royal.  And although each had elements resembling the other he completely transforms into them making them quite individualistic.  William Li also shows off some wonderful range as he switches from beleaguered Goblin to blustering Father.  And while mostly relegated to exposition, Truzzi and Abram find their moments of gorgeous truth within their characters. 

But the two stand outs from the show, the two who kept walking away with every scene had to be Hannah Mootz as the duplicitous yet well meaning Maid and Frank Lawler as the ridiculous and delusional wanna-be paramour.  Lawler takes him beyond the comic relief and places him in a realm of heartfelt comedy, a performance up there with the likes of Bill Irwin or Mark Rylance.  And Mootz manages a gorgeous performance as a woman desperate to help her lover, her mistress and herself; three goals which completely conflict with each other.  And her portrayal of that conflict is absolutely stunning. 

I'm not sure what else you can need for an evening of theater.  Solid performances on a sublime set in one of the works of an American master playwright.  It's a no brainer. 

"The Illusion" from Sound Theatre Company performs at Seattle Center's Center Theatre at the Armory through August 26th.  For tickets or information, visit them online at

Photo credit: Evan Bunnage

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