Theatre 1010, on the Upper East Side, is the oldest Equity Off-Off-Broadway company. It offers productions of established plays as well as the development of original ones.Behind the Mask, by Ricki G. Ravitts, got a first-rate workshop production. Although the play seems unfinished in its present state, it deserved a round of applause for all involved. Behind the Mask had dazzling sword fights and moments of powerful theatricality. The scenes of courtship between Lydia (Ravitts) and the Viceroy (Richard White), and between Diego (Justin Lewis) and Belinda (Carrie Brewer), delighted and astounded. In both of these subplots, Ravitts has her characters actively seeking objectives - as when the Viceroy uses a story about Caesar as a courting device. Ravitts's writing is strongest in these scenes, adding much-needed style and panache to the proceedings.
The play doesn't quite succeed in the scenes in Act I, where we are waiting for something to happen. Too much talk involving the back story bogged down the pace. Also, the through-line from Lydia's grief to the discovery of a possible new love interest could use more investigation. After her husband's murder, she seems too taken by the handsome Viceroy too quickly. If the more inert passages of Act I were replaced by a more hesitant Lydia and more persuasive Viceroy, perhaps the well-written scenes in Act II would have seemed more earned.
The production itself was of high caliber. Director J.R. Sullivan gave the play a more than honorable workshop production. Here we actually heard the play and clearly saw what was working and what was not quite. The acting, however, at times seemed a little stock; granted, many of the minor characters are written this way, and some of the lines, like "Life here is hard, death is easy," are hard for any actor to make believable. Regardless, playwright Ravitts gave herself a juicy role, which she played to the hilt. She was vulnerable in the opening scene, daring in the more swashbuckling moments, and very funny when she was being courted. Richard White was a strong Viceroy and very sweet in the scenes with Lydia. The acting of Justin Lewis and Carrie Brewer was excellent, and their work in the balcony scene was a show-stopper.
The set, by James Wolk, was excellent, lending a very right touch in the depiction of a Spanish villa on the West Coast. The lighting by Douglas Filomena was beautiful. Then there were those fight scenes, choreographed by Nicole Callender, which left the viewers bowled over and wanting more.
Others in the cast: Al Foot III, Nicole Godino, Paul Molnar, Denise Alessanria Hurd, Daniela Rapp, J.R. Robinson, Ray A. Rodriguez, Ian Rose, Justin Ray Thompson, and David A. Tyson.
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Copyright 2000 Andrés J. Wrath