Archikulture Digest

Life is a Dream (La Vida es Sueno)

Life is a Dream (La Vida es Sueno)

By Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Directed by Alan Bruun

Starring Stephen Lima, Leander Suleiman, and Elena Day

Mad Cow Theater, Orlando FL

I had this weird dream the other night – a troupe of martial arts trainees crawled out of the floor at IKEA and put on a play. There was a king, a monster, a romance, a battle, a little love and a good bit of treachery. What more could you want? Bobbie Bell played King Basilio, a wily man in fear eldest son Segismundo’s (Lima) horoscope. Believing makes it true, and while Segismundo is locked in a magic tower, Basilio makes deal with Astolfo (Jamie Cline) to marry his own first cousin Estrella (Michelle Krause). Meanwhile, Rosaura (Suleiman) enters the tower in disguise accompanied by comic Clarin (Day). She’s looking for Astolfo, desiring either marriage or murder as he left her at the altar back in Moscow. To justify his torture of Segismundo, Basilio drugs him, places him on the throne for one day and tells him this is just a dream. His short rule is brutal, but when a rebellion displaces Basilio, Segismundo returns and rules as if he’s really in dream, a place where only good must be done.

I’ve never had a dream where anyone told me I was or wasn’t dreaming, but no matter, because plenty of good governance occurred tonight. This might be one of Stephen Lima’s best performances as the chained and backlit monster who finds redemption through the simple kindness of freedom of action and will. Bobbie Bell looks more and more kingly, and it’s always fun watching him in capitalist / monarchist roles. Ms. Krause was sultry if restrained, and I thought she paired up better with regal Mr Cline than the more mercurial Rosaura. Day’s Clarin was the comic, and looks like she studied well at the school of Red Skelton.

Amanda Smith and Rebecca Hutchen’s set was particularly striking, looking like a carpeted cat run with white umbrellas raining down and serving as swords and other props as needed. The effect was as if an Elizabethan drama was done by an avant garde performance company in 1960, and by minimizing the clutter on stage, Segismundo’s curtain speech was magic. The Valentines Day opening connects well to both romance and battle, but there’s more here. “Life is a Dream” can takes us anywhere, just like a real dream.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com


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