Friday, February 13, 2009

Octavio Solis's Lydia at Yale Rep

Everybody ought to have a maid
Yale Rep is the kind of theater company that tries to push boundaries. They put on a lot of risky new work. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it does.

Lydia, the latest play from Octavio Solis, works. It works as storytelling. It works as psychodrama, peeling back the layers of every character’s social (or antisocial) behavior to expose the beating heart within. It works as metaphor, exploring and exposing the nature of duality, as evidenced in everything and everyone we see. And it works as an evening of theater, showcasing the talents of a brilliant cast (all excellent, but especially Onahoua Rodriguez, who plays Ceci).

The playwright, in an interview, described himself as a happy man. Lydia is the product of a happy man’s comfort in exploring the darkest fantasies of human desire, apparently safe in his ability to separate fantasy from reality in his own mind—or at least adept at stepping through the wall that divides them.

Lydia is set in the border town of El Paso, in the 1970s. Border is the overarching conceit of the play—a literal border between countries, but also the border between yin and yang, between good and evil, between love and hate, between male and female, between life and death.

Maybe this is the play David Adjmi set out to write when he fell into the abyss of The Evildoers. The difference is that play did not work. Lydia does.

The writing and acting carry the Yale Rep production. The set and the staging were adequate but less imaginative and less precise than what we’ve become accustomed to from the company. The audience on Wednesday was on the thin side, with some season ticket holders not attending, and less than enthusiastic in their applause. Perhaps others were not as impressed as I was, or perhaps the emotions the play evoked in them left them drained and unable to respond. I don’t know. See the play and decide for yourself.


Anonymous said...

I thought the play was terrible, It beat us over the head with tired stereotypes. The plot went nowhere, events happened for no logical reason, and the ending was terrible. The sometimes bad accents made it worse. At least some of the actors were good.

Anonymous said...

'Lydia' is godawful. Lurid, overwrought melodrama tarted up with psychosexual pretension. Stephanie Beatriz, however, is an actress to watch.

Dick Margulis said...

Dear Anonymous 1 and Anonymous 2 (if you're indeed separate individuals).

A difference of opinion is fine. As I've stated before, I'm not a professional theater critic. I'm a Yale Rep subscriber with a blog, and I sometimes post my own opinions of productions there. I'm entitled to my opinion, you're entitled to your opinion, and the world is richer for having access to all of them.

But the thing is, I sign my reviews. I'm happy to post anonymous comments, but I don't give a lot of credence to people who are not willing to stand behind their pronouncements.

If your problem is some technical glitch with blogger that forces you to post anonymously, that does not stop you from including your name in your post. With no name, you're indistinguishable from a troll or from someone who has personal animus toward the playwright.

I went through a long dialogue with an anonymous commenter who was impassioned in his defense of David Adjmi, but for all I knew, that was Adjmi himself, or a friend or lover of his, rather than a disinterested reviewer who just happened to disagree vehemently with me.

Anonymous said...

I have seen only two productions at Yale Rep and they were LYDIA and THE EVILDOERS. I agree with your take on both plays; loved LYDIA hated EVILDOERS. I actually left THE EVILDOERS angry because I felt it was almost willfully bad. Anonymous thinks LYDIA was lurid? No, lurid would be an unmotivated tongue biting.

Enjoyed your blog and look forward to seeing more risk taking at Yale Rep.

Michael R. McGuire