Icarus

A good cast does its best with this flimsy material; Casano's flinty turn provides what emotional center there is here, while Holt is delightful as a bathroom-mirror Monroe. Derek Duarte's lyrical lighting, Beaver Bauer's wry costumes and Jeff Mockus' witty sound design also make thoughtful contribs. But this "Icarus" --- rather too like its apparent subject --- goes only skin-deep.

With:
Altagracia ..... Denise Casano The Gloria ..... Lorri Holt Mr. Ellis ..... Douglas Markkanen Primitivo ..... Sean San Jose Beau ..... Daniel Travis Coming after the rich, layered family drama of his Kennedy Center Fund winner and ATCA New Play Award nominee "Clean," Edwin Sanchez's new "Icarus" disappoints. A slight seriocomic allegory about the dueling natures of physical and inner beauty, this extended one-act is disarming at times, but its thinly developed themes and character relationships make just a fleeting impact. It's certainly been given a handsome setting by San Jose Rep (in the company's very smart new theater), but the production's high physical sheen almost works against a work so fragile it nearly blows away. Yael Pardess' set is a sleek aquamarine shoreline bookended by two beach-house fronts. One of these is promptly broken into by assertive Altagracia (Denise Casano), who figures the owners won't be back till summertime. She needs a temporary home for herself, wheelchair-bound brother Primitivo (Sean San Jose) and their raggedy mate Mr. Ellis (Douglas Markkanen), who is promptly banished to the sub-porch crawl space. Primitivo has just been liberated from a hospital; his illness is undefined, but presumably terminal. Altagracia's mission is to nurture in peace his "living legend" pipe dreams --- which poetically involve "touching the sun" via a swim in the ocean, and prosaically (if no more realistically) "practicing interview techniques and autograph signing" for the paparazzi onslaught this stunt will surely bring. Disfigured by facial birthmarks, sis has her own reasons to escape the "real world." And Mr. Ellis, clutching a suitcase of keepsakes, seems captive to some awful, unnamed personal loss. Their seclusion is broken by the arrival of Beau (Daniel Travis), who has been given official permission to stay here, and nearly kicks out the trio. But they view him as a kindred spirit --- after all, his omnipresent ski mask suggests some hidden variant on their own "ugliness"--- so the quartet settle into an uneasy community. Meanwhile, the house next door is inhabited by the Gloria (Lorri Holt), a onetime "this year's blonde" starlet still pathetically hanging on to her dreams of public worship. Oblivious to anyone else's reality, she provides an unblinking audience for Primitivo's delusions, while seducing Beau --- even as he grows amorous toward surface-tough, insecure Altagracia. When Beau finally takes off his mask, his own untarnished "golden" beauty --- this "ugliness" is of a different, self-loathing type --- alienates Altagracia. But Primitivo makes a predictable final sacrifice to secure their love. "Icarus" is full of vague statements about the "right to dream" and "earned beauty," but the characters' psychic wounds remain too abstract or hurriedly explained to lend much weight. The brief scenes don't build much beyond mild, often repetitious comic riffery under Melia Bensussen's direction, with Ellis' "I'm not staring, I'm not staring ... Am I staring?" mantra growing tedious fast.

A good cast does its best with this flimsy material; Casano’s flinty turn provides what emotional center there is here, while Holt is delightful as a bathroom-mirror Monroe. Derek Duarte’s lyrical lighting, Beaver Bauer’s wry costumes and Jeff Mockus’ witty sound design also make thoughtful contribs. But this “Icarus” — rather too like its apparent subject — goes only skin-deep.

Icarus

(ALLEGORICAL DRAMA; SAN JOSE REPERTORY THEATER; 525 SEATS; $ 32 TOP)

Production: SAN JOSE, Calif. A San Jose Repertory Theater presentation of a play in one act by Edwin Sanchez. Directed by Melia Bensussen.

Crew: Set, Yael Pardess; costumes, Beaver Bauer; lighting, Derek Duarte; sound, Jeff Mockus; casting, Bruce Elsperger; New York casting, Rich Cole; stage manager, Tanya Gillette. San Jose Repertory artistic director, Timothy Near. Opened April 24, 1998. Reviewed April 25. Running time: 1 HOUR, 35 MIN.

With: Altagracia ..... Denise Casano The Gloria ..... Lorri Holt Mr. Ellis ..... Douglas Markkanen Primitivo ..... Sean San Jose Beau ..... Daniel Travis Coming after the rich, layered family drama of his Kennedy Center Fund winner and ATCA New Play Award nominee "Clean," Edwin Sanchez's new "Icarus" disappoints. A slight seriocomic allegory about the dueling natures of physical and inner beauty, this extended one-act is disarming at times, but its thinly developed themes and character relationships make just a fleeting impact. It's certainly been given a handsome setting by San Jose Rep (in the company's very smart new theater), but the production's high physical sheen almost works against a work so fragile it nearly blows away. Yael Pardess' set is a sleek aquamarine shoreline bookended by two beach-house fronts. One of these is promptly broken into by assertive Altagracia (Denise Casano), who figures the owners won't be back till summertime. She needs a temporary home for herself, wheelchair-bound brother Primitivo (Sean San Jose) and their raggedy mate Mr. Ellis (Douglas Markkanen), who is promptly banished to the sub-porch crawl space. Primitivo has just been liberated from a hospital; his illness is undefined, but presumably terminal. Altagracia's mission is to nurture in peace his "living legend" pipe dreams --- which poetically involve "touching the sun" via a swim in the ocean, and prosaically (if no more realistically) "practicing interview techniques and autograph signing" for the paparazzi onslaught this stunt will surely bring. Disfigured by facial birthmarks, sis has her own reasons to escape the "real world." And Mr. Ellis, clutching a suitcase of keepsakes, seems captive to some awful, unnamed personal loss. Their seclusion is broken by the arrival of Beau (Daniel Travis), who has been given official permission to stay here, and nearly kicks out the trio. But they view him as a kindred spirit --- after all, his omnipresent ski mask suggests some hidden variant on their own "ugliness"--- so the quartet settle into an uneasy community. Meanwhile, the house next door is inhabited by the Gloria (Lorri Holt), a onetime "this year's blonde" starlet still pathetically hanging on to her dreams of public worship. Oblivious to anyone else's reality, she provides an unblinking audience for Primitivo's delusions, while seducing Beau --- even as he grows amorous toward surface-tough, insecure Altagracia. When Beau finally takes off his mask, his own untarnished "golden" beauty --- this "ugliness" is of a different, self-loathing type --- alienates Altagracia. But Primitivo makes a predictable final sacrifice to secure their love. "Icarus" is full of vague statements about the "right to dream" and "earned beauty," but the characters' psychic wounds remain too abstract or hurriedly explained to lend much weight. The brief scenes don't build much beyond mild, often repetitious comic riffery under Melia Bensussen's direction, with Ellis' "I'm not staring, I'm not staring ... Am I staring?" mantra growing tedious fast.

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