Boxer Shorts II, “From Water to Dust”: Ashes to Ashes

Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots, "Tape"

Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots, “Tape”

Boxershorts, A Cycle of Short Plays: “From Water to Dust” (Del Agua al Polvo)
Presented by Brown Box Theatre Project and Icaro Compania Teatral
Directed by Talia Curtin and Kyler Taustin
Plays by Jose Rivera, Nilo Cruz, Maria Irene Fornes, Caridad Svich
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BOSTON
Atlantic Wharf
290 Congress St
Feb 26-28 & Mar 4-6, 2016

SALISBURY
Headquarters Live
115 S Division St
March 10, 2016

OCEAN CITY
Center for the Arts
502 94th Street
March 11-14, 2016

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Brown Box Theatre presents Boxer Shorts: From Water to Dust (Del gua al polvo) in collaboration with  Icaro Compania Teatral. It’s a short evening, say 50 minutes to an hour, of work from playwrights we don’t see a lot of in Boston: Jose Rivera, Nilo Cruz, Maria Irene Fornes, and Caridad Svich. From science fiction to abstract drama, It’s a nice change of pace. While not 100% reflective of the work by these playwrights, it’s an introduction to their work. It’s enough to give the audience motive to seek out more.

The evening opens with “Tape” by Jose Rivera. This daydream of a science fictiony silver nugget asks, what if we’re still responsible for our life choices after death? In a haunting scene played by Rachel Belleman and Johnny Quinones, Rivera posits that even the most innocuous of missteps can lead to discomfort in the afterlife. Belleman and Quinones give strong performances in a tiny space that reach beyond the enclosure in which they are bound. 

Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots, "Capricho"

Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots, “Capricho”

The best play of the evening was “Capricho” by Nilo Cruz. It was exceedingly well acted by Miguel Septien who spun the audience through a merry dance of anxiety and euphoria. In it, Lolo, an actor, goes through the motions of preparing for a performance. He performs the manic rituals that fellow performers will recognize as nervous ticks and superstitious charms.

Taustin’s direction, Septien’s performance and Cruz’s writing balance seamlessly. Septien evokes great sympathy from his audience even as his staging forces a discomforted physical reaction from us. It’s a fun dichotomy that is true to life even if the symbolism is metaphysical in nature. Combined with the eerie light cues and purposefully muffled sound cues, “Capricho” is decisively effective in its delivery.

“Springtime” by Maria Irene Fornes is a stubby play that starts a little gay and ends with heartbreak. It’s not exemplary of Fornes’ best work. It has her style, sure, but its short scenes and abstract concepts don’t do it any favors. No matter how great a job the actors do, and they were fine, it’s not going to make up for Fornes’ stunted scenes.

“Bliss” by Caridad Svich is notable for being the most physically demanding play of the evening and the best directed. Curtain establishes immediately through movement the plight of her actors and the world in which Svich is working. Without giving anything away, it is evocative of the lovers Francesca and Paolo in Canto V of Dante’s Inferno. Rainbow (Olivia Caputo) and Jim (Quinones) flit about the stage just as Dante’s lovers are tossed recklessly around Hell. The writing itself is odd but Curtain’s work with it is impressive for such a short piece.

There are pluses and minuses to Boxer Shorts. It’s an evening of good theatre created from unique plays with a strong cast. P.S. It’s also free. If you see it for no other reason, see it because it’s affordable for everyone and all theatre deserves an attentive, full audience.

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