By Byrne Harrison
Sometime the thing that makes a production is finding the right company for the play. In the case of "Ten Blocks on the Camino Real," the right company is Beau Jest Moving Theatre. Beau Jeste creates theatre pieces with a strong sense of physicality and experimental interpretations of existing plays.
Beau Jest's esthetic works extremely well with this odd, nonrealistic one act. Made up of ten scenes (or blocks), "Ten Blocks" is a fevered dream of a lost traveler named Kilroy, who has a heart the size of a baby's head; a gypsy girl, Esmerelda, whose virginity is restored every month; and a strange town on the Camino Real. Other lost souls congregate in the town, including Casanova and Marguerite Gautier... there's even an appearance by Don Quixote.
Beau Jest embraces the strange and wonderful aspects of "Ten Blocks" by using song, dance, masks, puppetry, costumes, and music to highlight the nonrealistic elements of the play. The result is a warped, trippy, and wonderful confection.
The ensemble is extremely strong, with particular praise going to Nick Ronan (Kilroy), Larry Coen (Gutman), Jordan Harrison (Guitarist, Baron, Quixote), and Lauren Hallal (Gypsy).
The strongest moments of the play are the least realistic - a wonderful, glow-in-the-dark skeleton dance, the otherworldly laughter of the street sweepers (the masked collectors of the dead), the jerky walk of the desiccated puppet. But what truly makes the production is the wonderful use of music and sound. Most of composer Don Dinicola's music is played live during the show by Santiago Cardenas, Adam Schutzman and Mark Fredericks. Using a wide variety of instruments (including tubing and a musical saw), they create a rich and complex atmosphere for the play.
Bringing all the various aspects of the play together is director Davis Robinson, who proves a virtuoso with this style of theatre.
As my first play of the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival, "Ten Blocks on the Camino Real" is both the perfect play to whet my appetite and to demonstrate the theme of the festival, Tennessee Williams and Music.
"Ten Blocks on the Camino Real"
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Davis Robinson
Stage Manager: Colin Dieck
Costume Designer: Fabian Aguiar
Composer: Don Dinicola
Set Designer: Judy Gailen
Mask & Puppet Designer: Libby Marcus
Lighting Designer: Karen Perlow
Musician/Guitar: Santiago Cardenas
Musician/Musical Saw/Foley: Adam Schutzman
Musician/Percussionist: Mark Fredericks
Technical Venue Manager: JD Falotico
Cast: Larry Coen (Gutman), Robert Deveau (Casanova), Lauren Hallal (The Gypsy), Jordan Harrison (The Guitarist/Baron/Quixote), Kathleen Lewis (Esmerelda), Ellen Powers (Street Sweeper/Peasant), Nick Ronan (Kilroy), Robin JaVonne Smith (Officer/Street Sweeper/Singer), Lisa Tucker (Marguerite/Madrecita)
Additional music by Jean Claude Chapuis, Ibrahim Ferrer, "Film Noir" soundtrack, and Mariachi de la Ciudad de Pepe Vilella.
Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival