Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Giant Void in My Soul by Bernardo Cubría

Top: Kim Hamilton, Bottom: Karla Mosley

By Joe Straw


Sometimes something comes along that is, at first glance, startling and then manages, by the very nature of theatre, to capture the imaginative spirit.  It is rare when you come across a new play that is breathtaking, breathtaking in the way that it fills the senses and settles the intellectual beast within.

There is a dramatic intimacy in Bernardo Cubria’s work of art, a fire breathing, soul searching familiarity that leaves one delightfully lightheaded when stepping out into the cool night air.  

The Ammunition theatre company presents The Giant Void in My Soul, written by Bernardo Cubría, and supremely directed by Felix Solís, is now playing at the Pico Playhouse through June 3, 2018.

Cubría has written a play that respires the human condition and defines it exquisitely, all for the benefit of understanding the human kind.  This play is a major work of art that veers off from heightened realism to highlight the struggles of humanity - all realized in a clown costume.   

Solís, the director, has overseen and has executed a show that is almost flawless. The moment the performers step onto the stage their eyes reflect a deep objective and a history of the character.  Solís is a master craftsman and what we see is the craft, brilliantly implemented, and exceptional in every conceivable way.

Let it be clowns to help us understand the deeper meaning of life.

But what is it about this particular play that touches so many humanistic chords? Simply put, it is the story of the human condition, and the searching of a salvation that will fill the void.

Funny, but, when we enter the theatre we are face to face with a red curtain, blocking our view, that bathes us in an eerie red shadow.  Cramped behind the red cloth, knee to keen, elbows to elbows, there is unusual feeling of wanting out, or wanting more until the curtains slowly open.  

Fool 1 (Karla Mosley) and Fool 2 (Kim Hamilton) are the best of friends.  In real life, they don the articles of comic entertainers, in white clown suits, in clown makeup, and painted faces – the works. They are inseparable juvenile clowns excited to be making their place in the world.

They speak to create an original thought or the one thought that would change the world.

On two grey sawhorses they sit, one sawhorse with fur fabric and the other with a plain leathery fabric that one might find in a three-ring circus to hold back the humanistic throngs of indulgent fans or wild animals.

Tonight, they grow tired of the banter that leads them into cavernous pit of self-doubt until a red bow falls from the sky and that “falling star” sends them into a tizzy.

Seriously, clowns take life exponentially, which is why they are clowns.

The bow unfolds – a tattered piece of red cloth – but, exponentially now, a small red curtain. But, what does it all mean?  

And through a ceremonious inclination Fool 2 places the red curtain in front of Fool 1’s eyes and lifts it as Fool 1 immerses herself.  And through the act of mental inertia Fool 1 feels a strong need to fill a giant void that is now in her soul.

So, they sally forth on an incredible clown journey, with copious resources in hand, to that place, in a faithful act of fulfillment and gratuitous suppostions.  

This would be, beyond a doubt, the finest cast ensemble I have seen in intimate theatre. 

L - R Claudia Doumit, Kim Hamilton, Karla Mosley

Karla Mosley is Fool 1 who rides the sawhorse of naivety, grows up, has a child, and is still a clown, always searching for something to fill the void. Mosley is terrific in the role, a clement clown that wants only one thing. Mosley gives an outstanding performance.

Kim Hamilton is Fool 2, a clown that has aged wisely and leisurely seeks to discover something that is not.  But she takes the journey for the sake of her friend.  It is a crash and burn journey, still things turn out well because she waits and listens. Hamilton conveys the strength in this character nicely. She also presents a deep concentration while in her character, one that sends a delicious shiver down one’s spine.

Claudia Doumit has a number of roles as the Bartender/Woke 1/Deep Thinker/Partner; in each role, she is decidedly different.  Doumit has a very sultry look, (despite the wonderful clown makeup) and is incredible in each role.  She has a level of concentration one rarely finds in intimate theatre and her physical performance was inventive and joyous to watch.

Top: Liza Fernandez, Bottom: Claudia Doumit

Liza Fernandez was also outstanding as Drunk/Woke 2/ Coworker/Baby/Parent.  Her round face works perfectly as the Drunk and as the crying Baby.  But there is more to her than just the look as she glides effortlessly throughout the night in her performances.

There are three actors who did not perform the night I was there.  Xochitl Romero (Fool 1 understudy), Malorie Felt (Bartender/Woke1/Deep Thinker/Partner understudy), Karen Sours Albisua (Drunk/Woke 2/Coworker/Baby/Parent understudy) and Liza Fernandez will move into the Fool 2 role on May 27th 2018.

The extraordinary Producer on this project were Julie Bersani, Michael Feldman, and Bernardo Cubría.

Sami Rattner, Costume Design, and Lighting Design by Lauren Wemischner paint a brilliant chiaroscuro as the white clown costume blend in with the natural colors of their mood in yellows, blue, and reds. It is mesmerizing in its effect.

Mischa Stanton’s Sound Design takes us through another time and place.  It places the audience in the void and helps us to come out.

Erica Smith’s Makeup Design, the clown makeup, highlights the individual characteristic of each clown that helps to send us on a delirious journey.

Arian Saleh was the Composer, and Brian Nichols was responsible for the Projection Design.

Run! Run! Run! Run!  And take someone who likes to explore the intimate details of all things.

The Pico
10508 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA  90064

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