Manuscript Found in Saragossa
Based on Ian Maclean’s translation of the novel by Jan Potocki
Adapted and directed by Christine Mary Dunford
At Lookingglass Theatre
821 N. Michigan Ave.
Call 312-337-0665, tickets $20 - $58
Wednesdays at 7:30 PM
Thursdays at 6:30 PM
Fridays at 7:30 PM
Saturdays at 3 & 8 PM
Sundays at 3 PM
Running time is 2 hrs, 30 min with intermission
Through December 11, 2005
Manuscript Found in Saragossa is a fantastic epic journey
Lookingglass Theatre continues its “Theatre Without a Net” season with a curious masterpiece by 19th Century Polish aristocrat turned writer, Jan Potocki. Manuscript Found in Saragossa was translated by Ian Maclean and adapted and directed by Christine Mary Dunford. This is a major theatrical triumph for Lookingglass Theatre. Manuscript Found in Saragossa is a stylishly wild comic adventure tale that is engaging, rife with danger and suspense, full of sensuality that asks questions about the use of power, the duality of man and the search for truth in politics, race, religion, wealth and the basic nature of man.
This complex saga is filled with Spanish folk lure during the 18th Century in the Sierra Morena Mountains of Spain. It is the story of Alphonse von Worden , a young Wallon officer as he embarks on a 66 day journey to rejoin his regiment in Madrid. When he stops at a rural inn, he drinks wine filled with a potion sending him into delusional adventures. The journey becomes a fever-driven ghost story where religious symbolism, ancient fables and local regional myths combine to reveal timeless truths into the nature of power, love, romance and strength of character. The show is a mystery filled with rich colorful characters, stories within stories brilliantly dramatized with dazzlingly staging and inventiveness including people emerging from the rafters, brilliant sound and lighting (Andre Pluess and Jaymi Lee Smith).
This enchanting epic draws us in from the start and keeps the long complicated tale moving with the clever staging and swift pacing. The amazing cast of eleven actors led by Lawrence E. DiSasi’s truthful performance of von Worden fearlessly enriched the tale as we empathize for von Worden.
From Eva Barr’s scary Ahasuerus, The Wandering Jew to David Catlin’s charming Zoto, The Bandit and Craig Spidle’s strong Hermit (and later the Sheik), each test von Worden’s resolve and trustworthiness. He is tempted by Emina, The Tunisian Princess (Louise Lamson) and her sister, Zubeida (Angela Walsh) and Rebecca, The Caballist (Tara Franklin) to no avail.
Anthony Fleming III, the agile comic was a hoot as Pacheco, The Daemonic and Raymond Fox was funny as the mad scientist, Velasquez while Tracy Walsh and Matt Sax were terrific in several roles each.
Manuscript Found in Saragossa is a technical and artistic treat for the senses. Its dense story comes to life within the deft staging and energetic acting. The major themes become apparent in director/adapter Christine Mary Dunford observation, ”although many of us make sense of the world through religion, science, the arts, or even wealth, this play proposes what determines life choices for many people – especially with those in power – is power.” That makes this cautionary tale relevant in the 21st Century.
Lookingglass Theatre’s picaresque production has spectacle, gothic horror, eroticism with humorous moments presented as a profound morality tale. This sophisticated ambitious production is one of 2005’s finest.
Not To Be Missed
Tom99@chicagocritic.com for comments
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This show is eligible for a C.S.T. Equity Theatre Award
November 12, 2005