Stage Struck Review

Reviews for theater within the greater Los Angeles area.

“Seven Spots on the Sun”: Ethics and Mysticism Fascinate at Boston Court

Ethical struggles, such as whether to help wounded combatants others want to watch die, mark

Ethical struggles, such as whether to help wounded combatants others want to watch die, mark “Seven Spots on the Sun” at The Theatre at Boston Court.

In the traditions of much of the developing world, the mystical and the actual live in a particular balance with each other as the authors of truth. With this concept as backing, Martin Zimmerman’s play “Seven Spots on the Sun” examines how a people copes with the particular atrocities of modern civil war, balancing harsh reality and that underlying, deepening spiritual element.

Now at The Theatre at Boston Court in Pasadena, “Seven Spots” proves riveting and wrenching as it explores the motives and consequences of the terrifying conflicts, which have afflicted, in this case, an unnamed Latin American country. Here, as in the real El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru or Colombia, villages change hands multiple times, with each side punishing those who aided the other one, and brutal tests of fear which harm mostly those whose compassion drives them.

The play begins on the day the post-war government declares an amnesty for all those who committed atrocities during the war, and how a small village – especially its healer and its priest – react. This plays against the flashback story of the young miner from a nearby town who, wanting the best for the wife he loves deeply, leaves the mine to enter the army just before the civil war begins. Gradually we become aware of how this young soldier’s life is twisted, and how that twist connects to the emotional upheaval in a village where amnesty means no satisfaction for great loss.

As the determined healer, Jonathan Nichols offers up a man with little time for mystery as he maintains what sanity of life he can in a village often overrun. When it a miracle does descend upon him, its connection to great pain is evident in every move. As his wife and co-worker, Murielle Zuker offers up a confident idealist unready to be dashed on the rocks of brutality. Angelo McCabe completes the trio as the local priest whose fear finally gets the better of him, proving him only a man.

Christopher Rivas radiates a kind of organic manliness as the miner turned soldier, and the decay in that confident joyfulness says much about the nature of war and the meaning of the play. As his happy, then concerned, then frightened wife, Natalie Camunas offers up the terror and frustration of a woman caught in the middle – needing something from those who were victimized by the good man she married who has devolved into a terrorizer.

Director Michael John Garces keeps the story moving, and works the mystical and symbolic elements of this tale into the otherwise straightforward story with such precision that even the most outrageous elements of magic feel logical in the moment. The terror is realized in such a way as to create gut-level reactions from the audience while still leaving much to an imagination already seeded with awful possibilities.

“Seven Spots on the Sun,” a reference to that cosmic condition which disrupts radio waves the way the war disrupts and blurs human lives, is performed without an intermission. It’s easy to understand why, as the intensity created in the first few minutes must continue to build to make the show’s overarching points about humanity and the limits to both forgiveness and empathy. Come ready to read between the lines and follow the symbols, and enjoy an intellectual feast even as you will squirm in your chair at how recognizable it all is.

What: “Seven Spots on the Sun” When: Through November 1, 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays Where: The Theatre at Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave. in Pasadena How Much: $34, with senior, student and group discounts available Info: (626) 683-6883 or http://www.BostonCourt.org

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