In­no­va­tive twist on old artists’ tale sur­prises, en­gages, de­lights

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN 360 BETS - By Cate Blouke

Though we might think we’ve heard the story a thou­sand times be­fore, “The Vir­gin With 10,000 Ar­rows,” writ­ten by Uni­ver­sity of Texas grad­u­ate Ja­son Trem­blay and show­ing at Austin Play­house, gives a gor­geous and in­vig­o­rat­ing new take on the tale of an artist who sells his soul for fame and money.

Ask­ing, “Is there a worse crime than fak­ing it?” the young painter, An­dres Marca Relli (Travis Emery) opts out of the cy­cle of con­sump­tion by re­pos­sess­ing his paint­ings and jump­ing off Golden Gate Bridge. Com­bin­ing vis­ual art, live mu­sic and beau­ti­fully phys­i­cal theater, the play an­swers An­dres’ ques­tion; ev­ery­thing here is alive and real — even in­spi­ra­tion (eerily per­son­i­fied by Ca­role Metel­lus) — ex­cept the main char­ac­ter.

Span­ning the four sec­onds be­tween An­dres’ leap from the rail­ing and the moment he hits the wa­ter, the two-hour play is a se­ries of flash­backs nar­rated by an am­i­ca­ble and sym­pa­thetic se­cu­rity guard (Don Ste­wart).

“Vir­gin” il­lus­trates is­sues of col­lab­o­ra­tion and copy­right, own­er­ship and in­tegrity, as the cast paints a gi­ant can­vas that the au­di­ence is in­vited to take home at the end of each show.

Even those close to An­dres let him down, but Kim Adams brings a lovely sub­tlety and range of ex­pres­sion to her role as Jaina, An­dres’ as­sis­tant and love in­ter­est.

Pea (Noel Gaulin) plies the artist with a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal cor­nu­copia of temp­ta­tion, and Gaulin’s beat-boxing en­trances punc­tu­ate his scenes like the tick­ing of a time bomb.

Emily Everidge as the avari­cious gallery owner and Eric Porter as the un­scrupu­lous art critic du­ti­fully ful­fill their roles as one-di­men­sional vil­lains.

Un­der the di­rec­tion of Fran­cisco Ro­driguez, the cre­ative team pro­duces a stun­ning tableau, and light­ing de­signer Ray Op­pen­heimer’s chimeri­cal play of shad­ows ef­fec­tively sit­u­ates us in the dream world of An­dres’ death.

Though clearly a mas­ter of stage busi­ness, Ro­driguez would have done well to fo­cus more en­ergy on the di­a­logue. Of­ten, mo­ments of mute in­ten­sity are un­der­mined by the ex­ag­ger­ated or forced ar­tic­u­la­tions that fol­low.

Travis Emery en­livens his role with heartrend­ing physi- cal­ity, par­tic­u­larly in the sec­onds be­fore An­dres jumps and var­i­ous strik­ing mo­ments when he wields his paints, but at times, Emery’s speeches fall flat. The in­ter­mis­sion comes as a sur­prise, and Emery strug­gles to project the oral sin­cer­ity for which he strives.

Ul­ti­mately, how­ever, the play is gor­geous, in­no­va­tive and en­gag­ing. The mu­si­cal ac­com­pa­ni­ment, com­posed and per­formed by Joey Reyes, sets the tone — si­mul­ta­ne­ously sooth­ing and su­per­nat­u­ral, and ab­so­lutely worth wit­ness­ing. ‘The Vir­gin With 10,000 Ar­rows’ con­tin­ues 8 p.m. Thurs­daysSun­days, with ad­di­tional per­for­mances 2 p.m. Sun­days through Aug. 1st in the Larry L. King Theater at Austin Play­house. $12 to $15. Penn Field, 3601 S. Congress Ave.

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