The Carrie Hamilton Theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse is a flexible black box, well appointed and well cooled! The current production, “Properties of Silence” by Theresa Chavez, Rose Portillo and Alan Pulner discusses Sor Juana Inès de la Cruz (Excellent Rose Portillo), touted as the first feminist writer, who worked in 17th Century Mexico in conjunction with modern day issues troubling Phoenix real estate broker Barbara (engaging Elizabeth Rainey) and her husband Tom (enthusiastic Kevin Sifuentes), swimming pool architect. The couple’s communication skills are failing. On Akeime Mitterlehner’s very broad set we discover Sor Juana at her desk with dreams of science and literature fomenting in her heart and soul. It’s dangerous for a sister of the Catholic Church to stray beyond her vow of obedience, but she literally thirsts for knowledge.
At the same time, busy Barbara whirls in with real estate deals spinning. She is disoriented from her drive home that was not her accustomed route. It’s hot in Phoenix and her fridge is loaded to the gills with gallons and gallons of water, which becomes a sort of theme within the pithy one act. As Sor Juana’s fever elevates, so does Barbara’s and they wind up in a world where they both exist. Is Barbara in the nun’s dream? Is Sor Juana in Barbara’s? Projected video by Janice Tanaka enhances our discovery process. Tom excuses himself to a shower that runs with sand! The discovery of independence and appreciation of the importance of dreams emerges to bring Sor Juana and Barbara to a mutual discovery while Tom (who doubles as Fra Miranda extolling the necessity of Juana’s recantation of her published discoveries) struggles to understand what’s going on.
Excellent tech and projections support the professional cast that brings the story home. Director Theresa Chavez imaginatively melds the worlds of Sor Juana and the Phoenix couple with skill. The success of Hispanic women is involved with the Properties of Silence in the underlying theme which is boosted by the post show discussions “Post Silence Salon Series.” A variety of invited guests share the strength and positive results that Hispanic women have achieved by going beyond the expectations of society and even their own families. Strong performances and an intriguing take on dreams makes this a worthwhile and interesting production.
PROPERTIES OF SILENCE
By Theresa Chavez, Rose Portillo and Alan Pulner
Carrie Hamilton Theatre at
The Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Thursday through Sundays
Through March 29, 2015
Tickets and information
626 396 0920 or www.aboutpd.org