Theatre Review: “The Illusion” @ Pear Avenue Theatre, 03/20/10

Written by Guest Writer: Walter Mayes

In the hands of master dramatist Tony Kushner, the classic French comedy “L’illusion Comique” has been reshaped into a play where illusion is all but impossible to discern from reality. Playing with the concept of multiple identities and worlds-within-worlds, director Michael Champlin and his cast take audiences on a two-hour journey where every question seems answered with another question, and the shifting identities of the talented cast add depth and resonance to the tale.

A father comes to a sorceress for information about his missing son. The sorceress shows him visions of his son, but with different names and under differing circumstances. Along the way, we ask ourselves if we can ever truly know anyone; if lovers must also be liars; and if fathers and sons can resolve their notions of each other and find understanding. Each question causes us to ponder the nature of illusion in life and just how much we need ours.

While all the acting is good, stellar performances are given by Sepideh Moafi and Monique Hafen. Moafi brings a beguiling cunning to her multiple portrayals of a woman always on the wrong side of love’s equation, while Hafen has the furthest to travel in her three roles (from wide-eyed, love struck ingenue to mature and bitter wife) and acquits herself beautifully. Both women have a flair for the comedic that is given room to shine, but their more serious scenes truly crackle with dramatic prowess.

Ron Gasparinetti’s set, while beautiful and functional, left me confused because the large panels with a circular design on it didn’t look like the cave that is the setting for the play. I think I didn’t get it.

The Pear Avenue Theatre continues to do strong work in their tiny space, and this latest production is one more example.


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