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Theater Tue Dec 09 2014

Teatro Vista's Tamer of Horses puts Allegory on Display

Teatro Vista - Tamer of Horses

Some spirits are too broken to ever be tamed, some souls too piecemealed to lasso into oneness.

A vagrant by the name of Hector (Joshua Torrez) stumbles onto and insists on taking refuge at the farm of private school teachers Ty (Juan Francisco Villa) and his wife Georgiane (Sari Sanchez). Hector is injured — physically scratched up and scarred from his escape from his urban detention center, emotionally and intellectually scarred from a complete society that intentionally failed him every step of the way of his young life. Upon finding Hector hiding in their horse barn, Georgiane immediately cares for Hector's scrapes with disinfectant and his hunger with apple pie, but as a former "project girl," she's well aware that there isn't much that she or anyone can do for Hector's soul, and she wants him up and on his way, sensing that Hector is dangerous, buck-wild, and brings trouble to the couple and the sleepy hollow life they've finally assimilated into.

This is William Mastrosimone's story of Tamer of Horses, directed by Ron OJ Parsons, currently being staged by Teatro Vista.

Ty is equally suspicious of Hector, and initially he's quite vocal about wanting Hector gone, but Ty is experiencing his own run-from-his-past odyssey — both his present, having taken sabbatical from his teaching job after suffering from burnout, he spends his days rehabbing old furniture and selling it at local flea markets; and his past of being the "good one that done good," having lost his Hector-like brother to the streets/prison/violent death. Ty couldn't save the body and soul of his brother, but perhaps he can reach Hector, he surmises. As Georgiane grows antsy with Ty's indecision to return to the classroom, as well as Hector's lingering presence in their lives and the threat that he brings to their marital and communal stability, Ty takes on a Pygmalion role, believing that he can "reach" Hector, "save" Hector, give Hector a reason to pursue life, finally. A Sisyphean task that Ty sets himself up for, considering Hector's primary reason for "disembarking" from the detention center is to make his way back to the city so he can fulfill the murder contract on a rival gang member.

Ty realizes that he's in a race against the time it takes authorities to find Hector and the ambition of Hector's anger. Georgiane realizes that she's been pitted is in a race against husband Ty permanently abandoning teaching his beloved Classics in a classroom and his commitment for the off-the-grid life that they worked so hard for. But Ty can never abandon the Classics, and gifts Hector with the story of Homer's The Iliad, allowing Hector to spin the epic in a way that makes the story relevant to his own life and times. It's a two-man, two-part synchronicity delivered by actors Torrez and Villa, with Torrez drilling out a mean-streets visualization of The Iliad, melding himself into his namesake character Hector, Trojan warrior, and "Tamer of Horses," while Villa leads him into a self-imposed war for the battle of the character's own soul. The actors perfectly pace one another in the second act scene, which alone makes up for a wobbly written first act, which at times looked as if the production could slide into Lifetime Movie of the Week territory.

Just as Ty begins to bathe in his victory for the soul of Hector, Georgiane brings home the reality that the couple have been living with their Trojan horse that is Hector, who hasn't been found, saved and resurrected, placing Ty in the unenviable position of having to accept the reality that Hector is doomed to be another "young brother" lost to history, leading the couple into an uneasy debate of whether the lessons they tried to instill in Hector would amount to anything more than time-fillers on an isolated farm.

Tamer of Horses neatly solidifies in the second act, with the three actors finding the chemistry balance to get the story's poignancy and despair off the stage and into the orbit of the minds' eye, and the production pays its debt to its investors. There was some fourth-wall question of how young Latino thug Hector managed to take refuge on what was probably the only farm owned by Latinos in the middle of New Jersey/New York farming country, but upon further consideration, real-life characters like Hector survive on luck of the draw and civility of familiar strangers.

Tamer of Horses is directed by Ron OJ Parson from a script by William Mastrosimone. Scene and lighting design is by Brian Sydney Bembridge and costumes by Christine Pascual. Christopher Kriz provides sound design.

Teatro Vista's Tamer of Horses runs through Dec. 14 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, with performances Thursday through Sunday. Tickets are $25-30 and can be purchase online or by calling 773-871-3000.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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