Excerpts from the reviews
Full reviews are below
“It isn’t easy to figure out whether Bernardo Solano’s inscrutable play about a young man poking his way about the Colombian rain forest is more sufferable than Lou Jacob’s sophomoric staging allows it to be. Failing to create a realistic, fanciful or hallucinatory aura — the play is meant to combine all three — Mr. Solano settles for murky dead-weight narrative embellished by mythical allusions . . . G. W. Mercier’s set — it is green — challenges every colorist’s capacity to dream up drabber hues and pile them all onto one luckless stage. It remains for the director to save the play. Mr. Jacob buries it. . . . It is a crashing bore, and it is numbing.“ Alvin Klein, The New York Times
“A green stage floor is offset by green utility poles and a few green backdrops. All dwell beneath a large net. Within minutes after the 4-person cast takes the stage, this barren wasteland somehow becomes a tropical rain forest . . . Achieved through clever set innovation, lights, sound and fine acting, the transformation is . . . miraculous . . . An interesting, intellectual and clever piece of writing . . . The actors turn in impressive performances while enduring rigorous physical challenges . . . “ Debbie Mura, The Courier-News
New York Times, Alvin Klein – Into the Thicket, Riding a Trampoline. For an elucidation of “Entries” at the George Street Playhouse, read a program insert written by Mary McGinley, the assistant to the director, who has also compiled a synopsis and a study guide for student performances. It isn’t easy to figure out whether Bernardo Solano’s inscrutable play about a young man poking his way about the Colombian rain forest is more sufferable than Lou Jacob’s sophomoric staging allows it to be. Failing to create a realistic, fanciful or hallucinatory aura — the play is meant to combine all three — Mr. Solano settles for murky dead-weight narrative embellished by mythical allusions. After his father dies, it appears, the young man, Jorge, returns to his native Colombia. He is keeping a journal — get the title? — about the rain forest where Tim and Samantha, an ornithologist and a primatologist, live. So does Celestino, a Yucuna tribesman. (Thanks, Ms. McGinley.) The idea is for Jorge to get in touch with his beginnings, to make peace with his father at last. The theme is identity. Even for the audience, this is hearsay. Mr. Solano’s attempt to dramatize a conflict, establish a through-line or arrive at a resolution is negligible. He appears more intent on writing howling one-liners (“It’s a jungle out there”), comparable two-liners (“It hasn’t rained much.” “Not much of a rain forest, is it?”), ominous philosophy (“We’re all scared of something”), philosophical omens (“Everyone dies and everything dies”). Add gee-whiz word pictures (“Every creature I ever imagined is out here”) and descriptions that dazzle and titillate (“Hundreds of thousands of multicolored ants marching”). Expect multitudinous variations on that line. Besides obligatory references to man, nature and civilization (that is, what it is), one hears about huge lizards, spider webs, termites, a woodpecker, wild pigs and animals “that can eat you,” not to mention enzymes and insect secretions. G. W. Mercier’s set — it is green — challenges every colorist’s capacity to dream up drabber hues and pile them all onto one luckless stage. It remains for the director to save the play. Mr. Jacob buries it. With worn-out, touchy-feely story theater techniques, Samantha (called Sam), Tim and Celestino assume different characteristics of wildlife, besides doing somersaults and indulging in all manner of simulations with sticks, up-and-down a pole and on a trampoline. As if on onomatopoetic overdrive, an incessantly percussive sound design is punctuated by squealing, howling, squawking and the sound of rain. Yes, the rains come. In great floods. It is a crashing bore, and it is numbing. How to convey all that, without help from Ms. McGinley? Imagine entrapment in an interminable lecture-demonstration: looking to the inviting exit, waiting for the bell. At the break, one could politely leave, but there is no break. “Entries” has no intermission. All at once, it is easy to figure why, with no help from Ms. McGinley. 2.4.96
Trenton Times, Meryl Maschal – Playwright Bernardo Solano and director Lou Jacob have created a visually arresting production that has little to offer other than its good looks.
”Entries,” on stage at the George Street Playhouse through Feb. 11, details a young Colombian-American man’s trip into the Amazon rain forest after he travels to Colombia to bury his father.
Jorge (Johnny Garcia), who pronounces his name George, has been invited to join the encampment of Tim (T. Ryder Smith) and his wife, Sam (Candy Buckley), two American scientists. At the camp he meets Celestino (Ric Oquita), a native who assists the scientists and acts as guide not only to the forest’s serpentine paths but to its mystical energy, as well. Through a series of experiences, both real and imagined, Jorge discovers his Colombian roots and the healing power of self-discovery. The play’s title refers to the journal in which Jorge records his experiences.
Playwright Solano has come up with some clever characterizations. The three other cast members transform into many characters including mosquitoes wearing vampire capes, a woodpecker dubbed Gregory the Peck and some very funny French frogs. Lighting designer Frances Aronson has captured the dense, dappled beauty of the rain forest using a variety of gobos (stencils through which light shines) and muted gels.
The spare set by G.W. Mercier is made up of tall columns lavished with a thorough drenching of greens, yellows and browns that truly evoke ”a palace of emerald shadows.” To complete the tropical atmosphere the stage is infused with mist and a lone drummer, Michael Sirotta, provides the beat of the jungle.
For all the wonderful ambience, however, Solano’s script falls short. The performances are very strong but the characters behind them fail to engage. Solano’s dialogue and references are often obtuse and leave the audience feeling as if it is they, and not Jorge, who are really lost.
In the original printing of the program it was stated that the play would be performed with a 15-minute intermission. A white slip of paper between the program’s pages Saturday night announced that the intermission had been omitted. This no-way-out performance gave new meaning to the phrase ”captive audience.” 2.1.96