(Photo courtesy: Stuart McNeeley)
Written by Patrick Chavis
I went to Super Antojitos in Tustin a little early to eat something before the show started. Super Antojitos is not a theater venue that happens to serve food or a restaurant that also puts on shows. It is a Mexican restaurant that continues to be a Mexican restaurant while the show is performed. The show is performed in the back of the restaurant, so be sure to find a seat there to get the best view of the show. Seating is first-come, first-serve.
Production-wise, a Mexican restaurant is an interesting choice for the show. However, the space didn’t add anything besides a place to put on the show. There may have been more creative ways to utilize the space. I was near the actors, and they projected their voices, but using some mics and a sound system would have been helpful. Much of the play is written in poetic language similar to Shakespearean English, making the speech one of the essential parts of the show. This is troubling since they were competing with the family enjoying their time eating at the front of the restaurant. That family had way too much fun. They were just tacos — simmer down. I’m joking, but it was hard to listen at times.
Unnamed Theatre presents a pretty bare-bones telling of The Great Theatre of the World. The story is told with competent actors, but the acting doesn’t feel connected to the narrative. The theatricality in the show is too subdued for the subject matter of God and humanity.
The show is The Great Theatre of the World by Spanish writer Pedro Calderon de la Barca. This play was written in the 1600s and was heavily inspired by Catholic doctrine. In this play, God is a playwright. He writes a play, and he writes a play about the world. God (The Director, played by Dani Burley) gives different actors roles: the beggar, the peasant, the rich man, etc. As the play progresses, we hear the other characters’ perspectives throughout their short time on earth.
The play answers the age-old question people have been posing for a long time. If God exists, why do bad things happen to good people? The play is a product of its time because its message only works for the converted who believe in an afterlife. Even if you are not religious, this story could provide insight into Catholic reasoning.
This is the first show from this theatre company, and in that context, it’s a brave first show to put on. It’s even braver to put it on in such a different environment. If interested, they have one more show on October 9th at 9 pm.