Reveling in Bohemian Lights

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NY Theater Review By Marcina Zaccaria

 

Multidisciplinary performance ensemble Live Source presents the World premiere adaptation for the stage of Ramón Valle-Inclán’s “Luces de Bohemia.”

The production journeys back to 1975 to reveal the life of the poet, Max Estrella, skillfully played by Jorge Morales-Pico (Macbeth at Park Avenue Armory, Reinar despues de morir at Repertorio Espanol). The words are everything to him, as he spits poetry to the web of exciting artists surrounding him. With mannequins in the background and color splattered through the set beautifully executed by Jonathan Cottle, the starving poet considers Madrid, as he defines his Bohemian world.

The actors blend and appear onstage as they share their sentiments over the 70 minute play. The life surrounding the poet in his politically charged Spain is vibrant. The tight ensemble includes Daniel Capote, Jesse Friedman, Timothy Mele, Ramón Olmos Torres, Jorge Morales-Picó, Gerianne Pérez, and Scheherazade Quiroga.

The production never loses sight of the original text, with supertitles in Spanish, adding to Max Estrella’s layered world. Fernando Gonzalez, who handled the translation, dramaturgy, and supertitles, stays very faithful to the original Spanish, while working with Live Source to bring this story to the stage. The production team looked deeply into the night life in Spain in the 1970s, thoroughly considering the seedy world, full of deep, profound friendships, drunken nights gone wrong, and failed relationships.

Direction by Tyler Mercer features sharp, kinetic performances, with the twenty-something cast bounding across the narrow stage. Televisions show pre-recorded scenes, sometimes in sync with live performance onstage, creating the event, presented in front of brightly colored posters pasted on the back walls. The immersive experience is built with live camera work and mixing of dialogue and images. With film cinematography by David Baloche and video by Mark Costello (Decoda’s Line and Expression at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), it represents the best of downtown theater.

The performance is never alienating, and the audience can find the soul and guts of Estrella within the context of his friends, enemies, and the dazzling cityscape. The performers have a brilliant sense of breath with the music and the lights. The choreography by Jose Rivera Jr. is sensual and exact, while the music by Neil Quillen is performed simply with a guitar and piano. Vocal solos create an emotional landscape that feels rich, even within the depths of poverty that Estrella is combating. Costume Designer, Michelle Persoff brings us back to the 70s with fringe pants and tied shirts. Lighting Designer Joanna Emmott includes festival lights and a disco ball that shines in the middle of the play.

In terms of downtown theater, “Bohemian Lights” is stand out. “Bohemian Lights” is a SubletSeries presentation at HERE, a “curated rental program” that provides artists with space and equipment. Live Source is a not-for-profit group of theatre and film artists from New York City. Formed in 2011, their mission is to “unearth contemporary themes, drawing from a blend of styles, stories, and live sources.”

“Bohemian Lights” continues through Sunday, November 23rd at HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Avenue, 1 block south of Spring Street in Manhattan. www.live-source.org

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