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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
TEN BLOCKS ON THE CAMINO REAL
at the Ohio Theater

DESOLATION ROW
By SANDY MACDONALD


Granted, Tennessee Williams was a genius, but are we really doing him any favors by dredging up his rough drafts? Some prototypes are best left to the archives. Judging from Target Margin Theater's amateurish, over-literal mounting, Ten Blocks on the Camino Real - the 1946 precursor of 1953's grandly -surrealist Camino Real -is one such work. The company, directed by David Herskovitz, pounces on the meager portentous script like dogs on a bone -or, to use a more Williamsian simile, scavengers on a dung heap.Here it may simply be a case of ambitious actors ( the cast's credits are impressive) let loose to sharpen their teeth on the scenery.

Set designer Leonore Doxsee has done her best to Mexicanize the cavenous Ohio Theater space-you do get the sense of a dusty, godforsaken plaza ( computerized printouts announcing an upcoming fiesta present the only jarring notes). Despite the abundance of playing space, Herskovitz often has his actors deliver their monologues and commentaries in close-up, nailing the small audience with "watch me" desperation.

The worst offender, puppy-doggish in his insistence on attention, is Satya Bhabha as the central, emblematic character "Kilroy" -America's clueless ambassador at large, here a washed-up boxer (can't miss the golden gloves strung from his neck) cursed with a faulty ticker, "a heart in my chest as big as the head of a baby." Concerned that death is dogging his heels - those sweeping sanitation workers with tritely bloodied plastic masks are surely not a good omen - Kilroy opts for a tryst with the gypsy's daughter, the deal being that she'll be magically revirginized just for him. Naturally, the price for this night of passion may prove exorbinant,

As the temptress Esmeralda, Purva Bedi contributes a lithe body and refreshing directness- she alone among the cast doesn't seem intent on packing Cosmic Import into her lines ( and it's cute when, prompted to converse, not just seduce, Esmeralda launches into a sprightly precis of current events).

Otherwise, between the actors' posing and beseeching, and a sadistically amped sound track, it's not an enjoyable or especially enlightening experience. You won't even pick up any useful Spanish: pronunciations and stresses are egreiously off. No doubt a dialogue coach was beyond the company's means, but couldn't they at least have checked with a friend or, failing that, a dictionary.

 


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