The spirit of founder Adrian Hall is floating around the downstairs Dowling Theatre at Trinity Rep these days, along with the spirit of theatre of the absurd former director Anne Bogart, as director Brian Mertes pulls out all stops in a clever, if at times confusing interpretation of Jose Rivera’s “Marisol”
Octavia Chavez-Richmond stars as the title character, a New York City copywriter whose guardian angel (Mia Ellis) has abandoned her to join other angels rebelling against God.
Eugene Lee’s set is a hodgepodge of scattered junk including an old Volkswagen, a toilet and dozens of props including packing boxes filled with shredded paper.
Marisol wanders through the abandoned streets of New York City, trying to figure out what is happening to her and the rest of the planet as the apocalypse takes its toll. Water has turned salty, the moon is no longer visible, and homeless, disturbed people wander the streets. She awakes from a dream to discover that her death (or was it someone with the same name) has been reported in the news.
Marisol encounters a variety of unusual people, including co-worker June (Angela Brazil), who takes her home, only to be harassed by her brother, Lenny (Charlie Thurston). Thurston has the challenging role of a mentally disturbed man who spends most of his time running frantically around the huge stage area. He also gives birth in a very surreal scene.
Mauro Hantman plays a variety of characters, as does Joe Wilson Jr., who for whatever reason pushes an ice cream cone in Marisol’s face. Brian McEleney also plays some weird characters, including a man who has been stripped of his skin.
Characters appear and disappear as Marisol, and the audience, try to make sense as to what is happening. Rivera throws in some dark humor to help us deal with the despair.
The play was written over 20 years ago and is even more relevant today. It is at times difficult to watch and at other times keeps you glued to the characters. Pity the stage crew who must clean up quite a mess after every performance.
If you like to be challenged (this is no “Little Shop of Horrors”), “Marisol” will certainly challenge you. “Marisol” is at Trinity Rep through June 16. Call 351-4242 for reservations.