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Larry Litt

Garden of Delights

Garden of Delights
Directed by Ildiko Nemeth
Written by Fernando Arrabal
Projection Design, Video Art and Animation by Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger
Presented by New Stage Theatre Company
at Theater for the New City
155 1st Avenue, NYC
November 15 to December 2nd, 2012
Thu-Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm.
Reviewed November 15, 2012 by Larry Litt

I didn't go to Catholic school but I know dozens of women who did. I've heard stories about both cruel, demented and caring, loving teacher nuns. I've also heard about rebellious Catholic school girls seeking to learn about the world of bad boys and teenage sex. Actually from the stories I've heard seems the girls are quite proud of their youthful escapades.

Quite the opposite takes place on stage in "Garden of Delights." Lais, strongly played by veteran songtress/actor Kaylin Lee Clinton, is a disturbed adult woman with extraordinary self-loathing. She has acting career success, fan adoration and material rewards. Nonetheless she believes she's a fraud who not only doesn't deserve these achievements but needs to be degraded by men. Why? We're led to believe because of her past schoolgirl betrayals and orphan abandonment.

Lais is a depressing counterpoint for the true focal point character, orphaned Miharca. Belle Caplis' erotically charged Miharca is already feeling youthful love for Lais when we meet then in the nunnery. They play at biblical stories but really need each other to assuage the perverse nuns' cruelties.

Lais grows up quite quickly when she meets Teloc, a magical forest dwelling man played by Brandon Olson as a fey techno geek. He leads Lais on, repels her, leads her again then in a moment of heightened madness seduces her. Lais life is forever changed. So is her unspoken relationship with Miharca.

When Teloc and Miharca reenter Lais life fireworks of perversion and insidious love fill the stage with blood and electric loathing. Belle Caplis shines as a woman seeking both revenge and love in the moment. Hard to watch without feeling simultaneous pity and disgust. A great scene worth waiting for.

Ms. Nemeth sets bring to life the austere life of a celebrity who keeps men only for pleasure and often pain. Caged by either desire or payment hairy ape Zenon lauds and ruins every moment of Lais private life. Chris Tanner's antics of both love and antagonism make Lais both love and hate him. It's obvious they're a couple with problems. Arrabal is wise to settle them for us in the most surrealist way imaginable.

Then there's the Busby Berkeley chorus line of sensual lambs. At first they are cute and cuddly, more so than humans. But they're also pawns in the way divorcing couples fight over who gets the beloved pets. Finally they return to be the truth we all want: love knows no bounds.


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