Stage Struck Review

Reviews for theater within the greater Los Angeles area.

Such Things As Dreams are Made Of: “Se Llama Cristina” at Boston Court:

The opening of "Se Llama Cristina" at Boston Court

The opening of “Se Llama Cristina” at Boston Court

It’s a dream. What first strikes the observer in “Se Llama Cristina,” the new play by Octavio Solis, is its dreamlike quality, paired with the sense of recognition: two rather desperate but well-intentioned people with grotesque backgrounds find themselves on the verge of parenthood. Their fear is the universal one, played out in a surreal environment – at once a history and a continuing anxiety dream.

Now at The Theatre at Boston Court as a part of a rolling world premiere, “Se Llama Christina” becomes a duet between a man (Justin Huen) and a woman (Paula Christensen). They run to each other and away from grim lives they are sure make them unsuitable as a couple, as parents, and sometimes as people. On this somewhat metaphysical journey they are pursued by Abel (Christian Rummel), the essence of male domination haunting the woman, and a girl (Amielynn Abellera) embodying the child this couple’s continued dysfunction might grow into.

Yet saying this tells little about the constant time-shifts, the empty, yet evocative space, or the surreal symbolism which make this much larger than simply story-telling. With direction bordering on choreography, a set composed almost entirely of a surprisingly mobile florescent rectangle, the audience’s imaginary forces become elemental to linking the visual snapshots and intertwining bits of reality and that otherworld in which the characters often float.

The performances hook all of this together. Huen and Christensen are onstage the entire length of this play, which is performed without intermission. Rummel proves suitably intimidating, radiating the machismo necessary to be a tangible threat. Abellera’s youthfully naieve character underscores the fear present whenever someone – particularly someone with a difficult background – looks toward raising a child who might end up the same way.

Robert Castro’s intellectual direction, which keeps this intentionally choppy piece intelligible, is the other great key to success. Street artist Gronk supplies the bare and stark setting, while Victoria Petrovich creates costumes both “ordinary” and defining.

“Se Llama Cristina” references the one character who, though the subject, is not on the stage: the baby they fear and anticipate. Performing this play in one piece, without a break, keeps the flow of the dream going. And it doesn’t stop when you leave. Like any fine work of art, it will keep on offering sudden realizations for weeks to come.

What: “Se Llama Cristina” When: Through February 23, 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays with an added performance on Wednesday, Feb. 19 Where: The Theatre at Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave. in Pasadena How Much: $34, with student, senior and group discounts available Info: (626) 683-6883 or http://www.BostonCourt.org

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