Credit: courtesy Halcyon Theatre

To call a work of theater a “graphic novel for the stage,” as playwright
Caridad Svich does in the preface to her script for De Troya,
implies a couple of things: (a) a heavy emphasis on dynamic visual
storytelling, and (b) some novelistic character development—maybe something
that takes advantage of the illustrated medium’s lack of limitations when
it comes to fantasy. The degree to which Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary’s
Halcyon Theatre production delivers on those varies from recognizable but
off the mark to downright inscrutable.

A young woman, Mara (Valeria Rosero), absconds with her knife-wielding,
perpetually shirtless lover, Gusty (Arik Vega), to the horror of her
conservative and devout guardian aunts Lena and Lupe (Tamika Lecheé Morales
and Isabel Quintero). A hypnotic, demonlike river creature wreaks havoc on
Mara and her family’s lives, testing each character’s faith and ultimately
revealing secrets linking the present with the past.

Carrasco-Prestinary’s production relies on projections by Mark “Trace”
Umstattd and blocking seemingly based on a pattern of tics for its visual
storytelling, and the result is a sluggish, muddy blur. Lena neurotically
washes dishes and ladles soup in one corner; Grandpa slams down Tecate and
murmurs at the TV in another; the river lady appears stage center and
howls. Repeat.

Over the course of two hours, those directions and an endless parade of
groans and wails make for a somber picture of misery. One highlight: a
tightly constructed monologue delivered by Noe Jara as Grandpa about an
ill-fated pet.   v