Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
The one-act play is set in a prison in an unnamed time and place. The dismal set is paired with dimmed lighting and the sounds of random prison bells and buzzers. Two prisoners in adjoining cells named Wallace (Andrew Wind) and Valdez (Antonio Amadeo) share a relationship based on their mutual torture and humiliation at the hands of their guards. Their imagination and their sanity wander amidst the seeming futility of their setting. As they cannot see one another, they hold fast to exchanging stories, arguing and postulating theories of their escape. When their words are spent they engage in the childhood word game "I'm going on a trip and I'm taking ... ." Their only hope of freedom seems to be a guard named Smash (Alex Alvarez). Though he is a rough, loud, menacing man, he is plagued by the fact that he empathizes with the pain of the prisoners. However, this does not make him kindly and tender-hearted toward them. It makes him only angry and resentful that the images of their suffering will not be silent. In fact, his self-described attempts to silence the suffering of one of the prisoners near the end of the play is stomach turning.
Wallace is the more intellectual of the two lead charactersmethodical, analytical, and at times almost poetic with his choice of words. Wind captures a man holding fast to what truths he can as a means of maintaining his own source of identity. His logic and ideas are his identity and when they fail him he is on the verge of losing himself. Valdes is less substantial than Wallace, but more hopeful. He bases his hope on his "feeling" so much he looks for meaning in things that just does not exist. His more mercurial nature is portrayed by Amadeo with a little play room for a line delivery or two that provide levity. While the bulk of the dialogue belongs to Amadeo and Wind, the strongest performance is turned in by Alvarez. His totally committed portrayal of the deeply disturbed Smash is unsettling and not easily forgotten. This is a dark and powerfully written play, well directed and acted by the Promethean Theatre.
Craig Wright is best known for his plays Mistakes Were Made, The Pavilion, Recent Tragic Events, Orange Flower Water, Melissa Arctic, Main Street and Molly's Delicious. The Pavilion was nominated for a 2005-2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play. He is the recipient of the 2009 Horton Foote Excellence in American Playwriting Award, and is a member of the ensemble of the Chicago-based A Red Orchid Theatre.
The Unseen will be appearing through March 25, 2012, at the Black Box Theatre in the PVA wing of the Don Taft University Center at Nova Southeastern University. TNSU is located at 3301 College Ave., Davie, FL 33314. The Promethean Theatre is a professional theatre company in residence at Nova Southeastern University. They are a nonprofit, regional theatre company seeking daring, creative, and original approaches to classical pieces, as well as contemporary and new works, that engage the imagination and inspire passionate discourse among its artists and audience. For more information on the theatre and its season, you may contact them by phone at 786 317-7580, and by email at www.theprometheantheatre.org.
*Indicates a member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers appearing by special agreement with AEA.