“Love, Sex and Death in the Amazοn” Review – Exploring the Bridges that Connect Us
Collider Theater’s production of, LOVE, SEX AND DEATH IN THE AMAZΟN opened, OCTOBER 10th – Runs until OCTOBER 31st. only at the Paradise Theatre, 64 East 4th Street, NYC
A seasoned theater-goer will always keep a keen eye open for productions that are not ‘within the Broadway Lights.’ Many times your joy can come from an off Broadway production, or, in this case, off-off Broadway, and it is a treasure for the mind, body and spirit.
The cast of Robert Murphy’s Love, Sex and Death in the Amazοn, directed by Jean Randich. (courtesy of Collider Theater)
Love, Sex and Death in the Amazοn is such a play. You enter the intimate, minimally decorated room that will house even a more intimate audience, not knowing what to expect.
Right at the onset of this play, which is inspired by true events, you are presented with several stories that will ultimately come together as the characters develop. But until that time, you are immersed in this production and each individual character.
Dona Ines (magnificently played by Carmen Roman), has recently lost her only child, her son, Marcos. She is convinced that Marcos (Zachary Infante) Is ‘stuck’ in between, possibly Heaven & Hell, possibly this world and other world, or maybe he just needs to complete his private journey to wherever he is supposed to be. Mom feels that the only way he will ‘cross between both worlds’ will be by performing a very specific ritual in the Amazοn jungle. She brings with her, Walter ( Max Wolkowitz), her son-in-law, to share in the experience. It becomes clear early on that this relationship is far from close and respectful. They clash every chance they get from the time they arrive until, well, I won’t spoil it.
Walter meets the local tour guide , Fabio (Debargo Sanyal), who is leading a small group of 2 men who have come to the Amazon in to bird watch. Their objective is to find and film as many birds as they can, while making sure not to get bitten by any venomous animals that might ultimately appear. Tom (Chance Mullen) and Jack (Ron Moreno) are a strange pair of friends with a common love for birds. While Jack’s wife Emily (Julie Fain Lawrence) is on another expedition, he fears she might be cheating on him and she does little to convince him she is not. Then, in one unfortunate moment, Tom is bitten by a venomous spider, and what takes place after that are moments of terror, love, death and forgiveness.
Late in the show, we meet Pai (Mike Hodge) who flies out to the Amazοn to (attempt) to bring Marcos into the world he deserves. Dona Ines and Walter do not make this an easy task.
Dona Ines could be a typical mother-in-law to anyone; she’s loud, demanding, over-bearing and intolerant of anything other than her own views, whether it is her interpretation of how much Walter loved and cared for Marcos toward the end of his life, to how high Tom should hold a bowl full of spiritual ingredients when performing the ritual. Getting to the point of conducting this ritual is where interpretation takes a tight hold on you.
Interpretive theater to me always allows every person to ‘leave the theater with their own personal experience.’ One never knows how they will relate until it stares them right in the face. For me, it was very personal. My brother was married for 20 years. During his marriage he had 2 children, both grown now. At the age of 47, which was 15 years ago, he told me he was gay. You would think, as his sister for all those years, I would have some sense of this during our growing up years. I was stunned as he began to explain his challenges and conflicts as he tried to live his perception at the time, of a ‘normal’ life, by staying married and doing what everyone expected of him.
But his heart and mind slowly forced him into the world he was meant to live. As an executive with The Washington Post for almost 30 years, he was in front of many CEO’s. Many of his clients were tech companies such as Google, Yahoo, Amazon and many youth oriented companies. I believe his path was easier because of this, as the youth today are much ‘cooler’ and ‘realistic’ than many of us in the generations before. Still, the world from what he knew to the world he was meant to be in, took courage, commitment, tears, love and forgiveness not only from his family, but from him. He married Billy about a year ago, after living with him for over 12 years. As soon as gay marriage was legal, together they embraced their love and commitment. He is happier than I have every known him to be.
My mother was 83 years old when we told her. She passed before Mark & Billy married but I believe now, she would embrace Billy as her son-in-law, when, at the time we told her, she was ‘blaming herself for doing something wrong to have caused his condition.’
We’ve come such a long way from the time I was growing up until the present. The world, although still ageist and homophobic at times, is beginning to understand the meaning of true love. You can marry your best friend, no matter what he or she is.
Throughout this production, you read in between many lines and you can’t help but put your opinions and thoughts into the characters’ lives. There is something relateable to everyone here.
Provocative and inspiring are two words I would use to describe much of this production. I also must comment on the acting. In a small venue when the actors have no place to hide or pretend as they are right there in the flesh within touching distance, each and every actor did a superlative job of playing their specific parts. It took very little time for the audience to connect with each actor in their own personal way.
Do yourself a favor. Walk away from Broadway for a bit and give yourself the opportunity to experience how ‘real’ theater gets its name. Many of todays’ Broadway smashes begin in small theaters. Congratulations to playwright Robert Murphy and director Jean Randich
Love Sex and Death in the Amazοn is playing at the Paradise Factory Theater, 64 E. 4th Street, NYC. Closing date is October 31st.
To purchase tickets for this special event, please go to:the brownpapertickets website