It's too bad I'm not writing reviews for Vital Source any more, cuz I saw some good theatre this week.
The Internationalist Succeeds.
The Boulevard's production of The Internationalist starring Cesar Gamino and someone else whose name I don't know cuz I didn't get a program (they don't give them out at previews), but I guess I'm not writing professionally so it doesn't matter, just like it doesn't matter where this sentence will ever end... uh... was an excellent thought-provoking piece of theatre. There we go.
The ingenious script was given free rein and proper treatment by the cast and director. It's the story of an American adrift in a foreign country, whose lack of language becomes a loss of identity as he struggles through jet lag, indulges in some eastern exoticism, and tests his integrity. The genius of the script is that half of the lines are written in a non-existent language, indecipherable by any audience member no matter how multi-culturally fluent they are. Producing this show is a challenge. If the cast fails, then the challenge transfers to the audience, and they have to sit through long sections of complete nonsense. Fortunately, the Boulevard pulls it off, without overdoing it and turning the technique into a cheap gimmick.
Gamino's performance is genuine and direct. By realistically and simply rolling with the punches of his character's complex motives and semi-delusional state, he gives the audience the treat of always being a little off balance about his next move. The woman playing opposite him also deftly handles her character's identity shifts and has a wonderful handle on the language. The supporting cast also manages the language challenge well, especially (again, I apologize for the lack of names) the curly haired guy, who's frantic anxious nervous energy made a long story-telling monologue in the nonsense language a truly bizarre theatrical moment.
Bucher's directing choices were mostly right on, even if some of the blocking seems awkward and lazy. Starting the dream sequences off like natural scenes, a generally energetic but not gratuitous treatment of the language, and minimalist set with quick scene changes kept the play moving and kept the me engaged even when the script forced the audience away from the plot by putting important exposition in the foreign language.
5 days ago