When I first saw the film version of Kiss of the Spider Woman” with John Hurt, Raul Julia and Sônia Braga, I was utterly transported. To a country I had never been, to a situation I had never experienced, and to a relationship between two people who would ordinarily have never met.
The novel was first adapted by its author, Manuel Puig, to a play not long after it was published. The story is set in an Argentine prison. A political prisoner, Valentin and his gay cellmate Molina, imprisoned for corruption of a minor, find comfort in their friendship and eventually become lovers. To gain his trust, Molina regales Valentin with a vivid retelling of his favorite film, and they become lost in its allegorical and magical story.
A Noise Within’s production of this iconic story is utterly beautiful and carefully crafted.
The story setting stays entirely in the cell and covers the daily activities of the two characters as they grow to trust each other and as Molina’s retelling of the film becomes more and more intense. To tell you more would be to spoil the unfolding of it, in case you have not seen the film or read the novel. Suffice it to say that there is much more beneath and Molina’s character has more burdens to carry than Valentin, although he would perhaps not agree with that statement. Which is telling in and of itself.
For a play that is as nuanced and emotionally intelligent as this to succeed, the actors and the director must have a deep understanding of the characters and their purpose, one that transcends the story itself.
This magical production, played as it is on the gorgeous proscenium stage of A Noise Within’s theatre, gives us performances that seem to defy the very edges of the stage. I felt as if at any moment they would step out into the audience and walk amongst us.
The set is actually a very small cell, the two bunks and the modest cooking area serving as their universe. But somehow these magnetic and fiercely excellent actors expanded the space to encompass the entire theatre, as if we were sitting with them taking part in their lives, another prisoner rapturously caught up in their sad compelling story.
The performances by Adrián González and Ed F. Martin as Molina and Valentin are absolutely flawless, and their earnest and authentic relationship is tenderly told. The direction by Michael Michetti feels invisible, which is perfect of course. He seems to have given these fine actors the space they need to breathe into their roles.
The result of this collaboration is exquisite. But then everything about this production is profoundly good. The set dressing, the costumes, the beautiful original tango-inspired score, the gorgeous sound design, the delicate lighting. Everything. I cannot recommend this play enough in fact. A highlight of my theatre year so far!
This is my first visit to the spectacular A Noise Within and I can tell you I was not disappointed. The theatre is wonderful and a delight to be in. I hope to be back again soon for their next show, “The Book of Will” opening in May. Until then, “Kiss of the Spider Woman” reigns supreme and should not be missed!!!
Pasadena is our lovely neighbor! Just a short drive and so worth the trip. A Noise Within is a gift of a theatre company…we are so lucky to have them close!!!
April 1 – April 23, Thursdays @ 7:30pm, Fridays @ 8pm, Saturdays @ 2pm & 8pm, Sundays at 2pm
A Noise Within
3352 Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
The A Noise Within production will feature an original, tango-inspired score by composer Alex Mansour. The creative team includes scenic designer Tesshi Nakagawa; lighting designer Jared A. Sayeg; sound designer Robert Oriol; costume designer Carolyn Mazuca; properties designer Stephen Taylor; dramaturg Dr. Miranda Johnson–Haddad; intimacy director Carly DW Bones; and casting director Victoria Hoffman. The assistant stage manager is Karin Naono, and the production stage manager is Lucy Houlihan.