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Real is a 70-minute show that starts quickly and picks up the pace even faster as it goes on. Real is the type of play where you cannot blink or you can miss a relevant part to what writer Rodrigo Nogueira is putting forth. An abstract play that has great lighting and some serious moments to it. Lighting designer Kia Rodgers does a terrific job with romantic lighting as well, in between scenes hitting the bare brick wall with just one sexy blue light to give this play a further allure of abstract, bordering on sultry.
Nogueira's play is a play based on a fugue—two different voices on the same subject or a subject with two themes. Who are we following? Who wrote this master piece? Why is Dominique (Rebecca Gibel), so concerned, so miserable? She is a women who has everything, a great job, a five-year-old boy and a loving husband. On this night, the opening scene after her monologue, we find her with her husband and her best friend from college—godmother to her son and her best friend's husband. They banter about many things: the New York City subway system, emojis and other silly things.
We soon get into the meat of the play's subject which is Dominique in 2019 and Dominic (Darwin Del Fabro) in 1934. Nogueira shows us the time difference, what is acceptable today and what was not back in 1934. We see the two prodigies and this fugue that they both wrote. If you watch real carefully, you see a lot of symmetry that is essential to the play. The bracelet, for one, brings the two together, as does the music and the vision, the genius of the two. Other symmetry that is brilliantly portrayed is that neither of the two are happy compromising in life. Both have compromised and both regret it. Dominique gave up playing music to satisfy her husband. Dominic gave up being who he really is because society dictated to him how he should be. Dominique is a tough women; Dominic is a soft boy. Her husband/his father, both try to change that much to there chagrin.
Erin Ortman does a fine job in directing Real. Ortman has the audience guessing as to what will hit us next. On edge, we plot through the ins and outs of this deep play. Nogueira gives us a little politics, a little sexuality, but thankfully, nothing over the top. Ortman transports the writing to make it edgy and resonant in today's theater. When the audience gets comfortable with these very good actors, we go back in time; we go forward in time. All the acting is pure in that the husband (Charlie Pollock) and the husbands friend (Keith Reddin) as well as Gabriela Garcia) have to go back in time, change there acting patters, accents and mannerisms to make this believable. If the past doesn't work with these actors, the present will be not as effective. Fortunately, the acting and directing is deft, and the play blends well.
The orchestration for Real is so well done. The classic music ends up as a mesh between these unhappy people and the hope that they have. It is not just Dominique and Dominic that are unhappy. Her best friend, as well as her husband have never achieved parenthood, nor success in the way that their best friends have. Success is something that Dominique and her lawyer husband take for granted, even though that is not enough for either one of them.
The symmetry that Nogueira has given us is vast and deep—it wanes and waxes as we hear the actors say during the play. We are constantly reminded of the pain that the two central characters face. What is worse than not achieving your dreams? To not be able to be yourself? We take for granted of the freedoms that we have today; we're reminded by the writing in this play as to how people reacted back in the 30s as to what is acceptable today and condemned back then.
Rebecca Gibel and Darwin Del Fabro are outstanding in their roles. The audience feels the two characters, their fears, the roles that they play, as well as their unhappiness. Both lives are intertwined, Erin Ortman brings this front and center. We desperately want to find out how the two will come together in this fugue of life.
Robert Massimi writes for: Metropolitan Magazine, Vocal Media, The City Journal, The American Conservative, Reason and UR Business Network.