BY ANTONIO ORLANDO RODRIGUEZ
Special to The Miami Herald
Así es (si así os parece) -- So It Is (If You Think So) -- an ingenious parable about the nature of truth and mankind's curiosity, is among the best-known creations of Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello. Since its 1917 debut in Milan, the play has continued to surprise people from all walks of life because of its confrontational spirit and acute satirical humor.
Pirandello based the play on his story Mrs. Frola and Her Son-in-law, Mr. Ponza. A line from that short story summarizes the premise that develops Así es: ``All reality might be but a ghost, or vice versa.''
The new production by Teatro en Miami Studio, in Spanish with English subtitles, boldly approaches this classic, a play that mocks the relativity of appearances, subjective judgments and the pretense of knowing an absolute truth. Sandra García's loose version of Pirandello's work reveals a conscientious analysis of the play.
The result is a synthesis that trims the script but keeps the essential core of the plot. The character Lamberto Laudisi's monologue before the mirror -- which Pirandello places at the beginning of the second act -- becomes a prologue that establishes the play's thesis and comedic tone.
``Others don't see you as I see you,'' the skeptical Laudisi (the playwright's alter ego) says, addressing not his own image in the mirror but a double wearing a mask. The mask, a significant element in the Pirandellian universe, acquires special relevance in this work staged by director Ernesto García. Through several productions at Teatro en Miami Studio, García has defined an aesthetic of expressionist and grotesque nuances which we again find here in the actors' body language and vocal work.
Although the original script of Así es does not infringe on the conventions of the naturalist theater of the early 20th century, Pirandello's parody elements and the provocative, ironic spirit that motivated them makes this rewritten work, which rejects realistic conventions, plausible and coherent. The movements are fluid, and the stage images underscore the mocking tone.
The recorded applause and laughter heard during Mrs. Frola's first scene introduce a distancing effect that ingeniously questions another type of truth: artistic truth. But a song that asks, ``White or black, where is the truth?'' seems redundant.
The cast's acting level is more uniform here than in previous productions. Sandra García stands out as a convincing Mrs. Frola. Christian Ocón takes on Mr. Ponza with a balance of contentiousness and excess. And Leandro Peraza becomes a believable Laudisi.
There are two conclusions to be reached at the end of the play. First, that, as André Maurois wrote, ``There is only one absolute truth: Truth is relative.'' Second, that with this new production, Teatro en Miami Studio is growing as a company. To make a challenging classic by Pirandello part of its repertoire allows both actors and audiences to access the best of world drama.