Gentle readers! This week’s theatre review for LA Weekly is of René Rivera’s auto-biographical solo show,
The King of the Desert.
Click here and scroll down to find my review.
~ OR ~
You can just read it here!
GO THE KING OF THE DESERT Bellowing, wildly gesticulating and posturing, René Rivera gives an athletic, at times manic performance in his autobiographical and bilingual one-man show (written by his wife, Stacey Martino) that examines his upbringing, noble ancestry and career struggles.
From playing an avocado as a kiddie in a school pageant to acting studies at Juilliard in New York, where his dreams of inhabiting the great Shakespearean roles are tempered but not quashed, the Mexican-American actor battles disappointment, typecasting and addictive behaviors. Interestingly self-reflexive, at times Rivera examines the dramatic elements of his own story and play as it unfolds and finds it wanting.
Vividly describing his childhood in a San Antonio barrio, characterized as “the circle,” from which he is falsely warned he will never escape, Rivera invokes his scrappy infancy with childlike wonderment and glee. His hometown is beautifully realized by set designer Danuta Tomzynski, with graffiti and flowers painted across the adobe walls, as well as a forlorn Madonna imprisoned behind metal bars. Jeremy Pivnick’s colorful lighting design melds well with Mat Hale’s gorgeous video projections. The sound design by Jade Puga and Richard Montes evokes Rivera’s most tempestuous experiences. It’s a rage-fueled rant of a show, at times exhausting to watch, but nonetheless entertaining throughout.
The King of the Desert
2102 E. First St,
Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; thru Feb. 12.
(323) 263-7684, casa0101.org (Pauline Adamek)