The Fantasticks reviewed by Alyssa Rivera
March 22, 2015 at 11:32 pm #1838Alyssa RiveraMember
February 25<sup>th</sup>, 2015
February 24<sup>th</sup>, 2015
Jerry Orbach Theatre
The Fantasticks, an off Broadway production, tells a story of two lovers separated by a wall built by their “feuding” parents. The lovers secretly meet on a moonlit night, anticipating the rain. Bandits try to abduct the girl but are defeated by the boy; thus the “feud” is resolved and the wall is stripped. When the two lovers realize that the wall and the dual were a ruse of their parents to join them together they are forced to face the reality of their love. In these scenes, the veil that is lifted from their reality of the world, is key of their separation but also to their reunion.
A wall is built between a boy and girl that are in love. The girl is child-like and still dreams of the world as an opportunity for merriment. The boy had been to college where he studied Biology. He recognizes that his love is foolish but does not care for he loves the girl. They are forced to sneak about, out of windows and climb trees just to be near one another. It is revealed that the fathers of both the boy and the girl are actually close friends and want their children to be wed. They go on to say that the most effective way to get a child to do what they want is to tell them “no”.
The wall that divided them made it difficult to connect, so they were forced to meet in secret. The moment when they were to meet in secret was one of awe. The scene is set on a moonlit night where a storm is said to be heading their way soon. The harp that played a soothing loving tone made me feel relaxed. I was also filled with anticipation of this first face to face interaction. When the Boy and the Girl first meet they are anxious and scared. They speak of the storm to come just as any awkward first meeting would pay close attention to the weather. To ease the tension they talk of taking shelter from the rain. The setting of the storm brings them closer as if as long as they had each other they would be alright. The image of them taking refuge of the rain made me feel cozy for lack of a better word. The image was successful in showing that even though in secret their love was blossoming.
As they are sharing the warmth of each other’s company that moonlit night, bandits come to abduct the Girl. These bandits weren’t ordinary, they were hired by the Fathers to end the feud without their children knowing. The bandits and El Gallo duel the son in order for the Boy to look like a hero. When they are defeated the Fathers end the feud and strip the wall that divided the households. Soon after they are left in the burning hot sun where their tempers boil. The children are still defiant and they gloat of the triumph of defeating the bandits. When the Boy’s father reveals that they had constructed this plan to join the two together they are disgusted.
The Boy and the Girl are now forced to realize that their love was somewhat a manipulative convention made by their parents. They question if their love was even real. They reflect their anger out on each other by calling out one another on their flaws. The scene of realization for me was the most anticipated part. You knew from the beginning that this secret wouldn’t last and that all characters were forced to face the reality of the situation. The setting also played a key role in what I got out of the scene. The sun mirrored the burning tempers that would implode as the scene went forward. After the Boy and the Girl fight, the Boy goes on a journey in search of the “real” world, “to be bad” as he said. This image reveals one of the messages of the play. It gives you a family dynamic where you’re forced to realize that the parents gave them convenience when what they wanted was an adventurous love.
Lastly what captivated me the most was the speech by El Gallo. After, the two children were distraught after the world they knew was now shown in a more depressing light. El Gallo tempts the girl the run away with him to see the world the way she wants to see it. This is all a grand deception of course because he plays the villain. When the girl goes to get her stuff to run away with El Gallo he flees. The Boy returning from “the world” tries to defend her honor once more but fails. They are both disappointed of their new realities.
The Narrator, which is El Gallo, comes to speak to the audience. He sets a scene in our mind of a cool breeze, the damp grass, and the essence of September. He asks us not to see with our eyes but to hear these images, detaching us from our other senses. He goes on to say that he hurt these two characters in order for them to realize that without pain there is a hallow heart. This theme is repeated throughout the play. This monologue wraps up the whole meaning of the play. That without going through the pains of the world they couldn’t have reunited in their love. This scene made the play whole to me because what it asks of you. It makes you look from a separate perspective at what has taken place and why these events needed to happen. This moment made me view the villain as somewhat of a hero. Although bad, he had to act that way in order to give the characters the ending they originally wanted. Almost as if he was guiding the characters to their fate.
My thoughts on the play at the beginning did not mirror what had actually happened by the end. My thoughts at first were, that this was another altered rendition of Romeo & Juliet. As the story progressed I saw that though the story referenced to Romeo & Juliet it was an entirely different story altogether. It was difficult to narrow my choices down because there were so many good parts that played into the comedic role of its purpose. Not only did the play ask of you to think of these serious questions, it entertained in a way you did not expect. I am not a frequent theatre goer so I was hesitant to believe I could even enjoy this play. I was mistaken by thinking that in the best of ways. Although the story line complex and with many twists and turns it was an enjoyable and interactive show that I would recommend.
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