Chicago Theatre Review
Camino Real Causes a Stir at Goodman
CAMINO REAL BY Frank Meccia
Director Elia Kazan wrote in his memoirs that he had misinterpreted the play Camino Real by infusing it with excessive naturalism. Produced on Broadway in 1953 it only lasted two months. This was a shock to many considering the author was Tennessee Williams, who gave us such great works as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet bird of Youth and The Glass Menagerie. This unknown play of Williams was brought back by the Barcelona-based director Calixto Bieitoa director known for his radical controversial interpretations of the classics, from opera to Shakespeare. Mr Bieito stayed true to his art form at the Goodman last nite.
When Williams wrote this, WWII was over, the new look for the future was called Modernism and art was moving to a new look called Abstract Expressionist. Writers and artists such as Ernest Hemingway, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock were taking their works from personal conflict within themselves, and Williams must have had a lot of conflict.
Camino Real is a mythical town where humanity no longer exists, where street cleaners remove dead corpses from the street instead of trash. And the town is filled with nothing but drunks, prostitute’s gypsy, tramps and thieves. It seems more like a town that I would find in a Twilight Zone episode.
Rebecca Ringst has created a wonderful set. Her simple design with lack of scenery lets the imagination work harder. The lighting excellence of James Ingalls really creates the movement for the whole play.
The Goodman really brought in a fantastic cast from Chicago Barbara Roberson who was Jeff Nominated for The Goat, or who is Sylvia, Jacqueline Williams who was in Trinity River last year at the Goodman and has the singing voice of a great blues artist. David Darlow as Casanova perfectly portrays an aging artist, who lost his soul a long time ago. Antwayn Hooper makes his Goodman debut as the central character Kilroy, a has been boxer trying to get out of this town. My only fault is with Michael Mereiros who plays a vomiting drunk in the beginning and end , at some point you need to say no to the director.
It’s hard not to feel uncomfortable during the show, but if the Goodman was looking for shock value and controversy then Artistic Director Robert Falls found it in this play.
Camino Real will play till April 8th .