I'm at odds with Marisol, a play written by Jose Rivera and being produced by the Department of Theatre at the University of Tulsa.
Marisol debuted at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1992. Set in a post-apocalyptic New York City, it follows the trials of Marisol Perez, a young Puerto Rican woman working in a publishing office. Living in the Bronx is now much harder, seeing as how the Moon is off floating around Saturn and Neo-Nazi skinheads are burning the homeless alive, but Marisol, with some aid by her guardian angel, manages a life of quiet "intellectual detachment."
However, there is a war brewing, and the nightmarishly apocalyptic world of Marisol is just the first shots being fired. The angels are leading the charge against a God who has "stopped looking." Heaven is experiencing its first attempted military coup since Satan first attempted it less than 5,000 years ago.
Obviously there are some deep theological issues at hand, but looking past the surface, you are, despite your instincts, swayed by the angel's plight. Marisol centers on the dregs of society, those who have been antagonized by society for their credit, their race, their mental state, and so forth. These people have been handpicked to be the foot soldiers in the coming war by no coincidence. They have the greatest beef with God. They are the innocents who have the best claim to a heavenly negligence suit.
That being said, Marisol is a play that functions on multiple levels. It is clearly not God's fault that your credit rating is low. In fact, if you read the news lately, it seems that God's identity has been stolen on multiple occasions. Take that, infinity credit rating! Amidst the chaos, one perceives a lack of personal and social accountability. God is blamed because he's the guy with the "buck stops here" sign on his desk. With its anarchistic ease, burning it all to the ground and starting anew seems the best course of action.
You should see this for two reasons. 1. At $7 for an adult ticket you are loathe to find any greater value in entertainment, especially in this city, and, 2., it's got a point. Morality demands that every once in a while society must look into the mirror to make sure that it's not being unreasonably cruel to any particular group. Theatre is that mirror.
In the context of Marisol, the mirror reveals a troubling blemish on our creation.
It is a mental block that prevents advancement by absolving us of personal accountability. To make war with heaven, in a metaphorical sense, means to accept your responsibility, and perhaps doing that, we can begin to address a myriad of problems.
On my way home from the theater, I saw no fewer than seven homeless persons. I saw no more than two migrant Mexican workers, and I was looking. Those that we antagonize and turn into villains are not always as one-dimensional as we would like. Theatre forces you to acknowledge their three-dimensionality, because, as well all know, standing up and walking out of a theatrical production is rude, and falling asleep, even more rude.
The TU production is massive in scale, utilizing scenic and lighting qualities that are uncommon to the local production. The incorporation of sound and video along with the scenic and lighting elements compliments well the "magical realism" of Rivera's text. Urban decay and detriment are difficult ideas to compress on a stage, but it is managed efficiently. Sit close to admire the makeup of visiting artist, and TU alum, Beth Bender.
The production is poignant and relevant. You might come out the other end changed. I did. Like I said, I'm at odds with Marisol, but I always understood that to be the point.
Marisol continues this weekend, Thurs., Nov. 29-Sat., Dec. 1 in Kendall Hall, near 5th and Florence, on the TU campus. Show begins at 8pm, and tickets are $7.
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