September 22, 2007

Sex and scheming in Taos

Taos artist colony perfect setting for classic tale of sexSex and intrigue sells. Always has.

It's at the heart of classics of world literature such as "The Iliad," "Othello," "Madame Bovary."

No doubt those themes figured in stories told around campfires by prehistoric men and carved by them into the walls of caves.

In "Midnight Society," a play that opens tonight at the North Fourth Theater, Taos Pueblo playwright James Lujan has adapted and updated one of the most notable uses of sex and scheming in literature to the Taos art colony of the 1920s.

Lujan's source is French author Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' 18th-century novel "Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons)."
Midnight in the (Enchanted) OasisLujan, who lives now in Los Angeles but is a Taos Pueblo native, says he likes to traffic on the edge in his work.

That’s exactly what he does in Midnight Society, his not-so-loosely-based take on Luhan’s colony. But be warned. There’s less about art and more about sex, suicide, alcoholism, power and rape in this production. And yes, there is some full-frontal nudity.

Mostly, it revolves around the disturbing and seductive relationship between Mabel (Lisa Fenstermacher) and her Pueblo lover/husband, Antonio (Nick Lopez). Imbedded in the drama is the plight of the Pueblo, faced with losing land and trying desperately to hold onto sacred Blue Lake. At one point, Antonio tells his beleaguered tribe elders to take the money the government has offered--that’s all these people understand, he says.

It’s not light entertainment. But if the drama is heavy, the wonderful staging (with draping curtains and blackouts) and right-on acting (especially by Fenstermacher, Lopez and Kim Delfina Gleason, who plays a Catholic boarding-school-educated Indian) offers balance. And at the least you will get a glimpse of what lies behind the turquoise and splashing sunsets.

No comments: