The Cayman Drama Society kicks off its 50th year with ‘The Illusion’, a play by American playwright Tony Kushner, which he freely adapted from the 17th century play, ‘L’Illusion Comique’, by Pierre Corneille.
Director of the local production, Paul de Freitas, explained why he chose this particular play, as it is quite different from his prior productions for CDS: ‘The Woman In Black’, ‘Sistahs’ and ‘Proof’.
“When I research plays to personally direct, I look for something new, not only for me but for CDS patrons,” de Freitas explained. “I look for successful plays which are not necessarily well-known. I also look for plays which have never premiered in the Caribbean – hence giving Cayman that honour.
“I found ‘The Illusion’ by keying the words ‘magic + play’ into a search engine. I read the script and had an incredible moment. I saw a way to present the play in a manner never done before and without changing a single word of the script. All I had to do was to create an illusion, so that words and gestures passed on audible and visual cues which would lead our audience to come to one of two possible conclusions about who’s who when the show is over.”
Stating that theatre relies on imagination, de Freitas made set decisions that were simple yet effective.
“Our audiences will see a phantasm set in black – very dark green floor, black drapes, black borders overhead, more black drapes to form curves, platforms to raise the floor – and a mysterious entrance covered by cobwebs. It is a simple cave. The setting allows the audience to hang personal visions of a cave onto what they are seeing and being visually prompted by the action, including lights and sound.
“For the first time in Prospect Playhouse history, the auditorium floor is a giant speaker capable of adding subtlety to the illusions,” de Freitas said.
It is the 17th century. We join a father’s quest to find the son he drove away from his home when the son was just a young boy. He visits a magician in a cave near Remulac, a small town in the south of France. But, is all as it seems? The magician’s servant is an enigma – he exists on the outside and inside of the illusions by which the son’s life is displayed to the father.
Who is the son hiding from with all of his changing names? Who is pulling the strings in that cave – the puppet or the puppeteer?
“The play is itself an enigma, as it presents comedy, tender moments of youthful love, the passions of the lover spurned, friendship and enmity, and just a couple of moments of dark terror,” said de Freitas. “All the world’s a stage, and all the world can be found on this stage, thanks to the wonderful adaptation written by Kushner.”
The director commented on the diversity of the cast and crew, a group that has been hard at work since rehearsals began to bring the show to the stage this week.
“Everyone who auditioned was given a major role,” de Freitas said. “One had to decline due to another commitment, but our show is diversified by a cast from Cayman, Australia, Mexico, Ireland, the US and the UK, with a stage crew to match. And so, there is something for everyone – visually, audibly and in the various storylines within the illusions. What’s not to enjoy?”
| ‘The Illusion’ is performed under licence from Broadway Play Publishing and the Gersh Agency and plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm from 20 Feb. to 7 March. Latecomers cannot be admitted during the first 5 minutes. For tickets, buy online at www.cds.ky.