By Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant
The wedding of Peribáñez (Siddiq Saunderson) and Casilda (Isabel Pask) goes from joyous celebration to unexpected terror when a mad bull rampages the town of Ocana in Lope de Vega’s “Peribáñez.” It’s an English translation from the original Spanish, “Peribáñez y el Comendador de Ocaña.”
When the Commander (Mike Mihm) is nearly skewered by the bull, the wounded man falls for the beautiful newlywed, even though she’s a peasant and he is a high-ranking official. Nonetheless, the Commander formulates a devious plan to win the bride from her new husband.
He calls his lieutenant, Leonardo (Freddy Miyares), and his lackey, Lujan (Don DiGiulio) to aid him in his machinations to win Casilda.
Meanwhile, Peribáñez and Casilda are enjoying wedded bliss. They sing, write poems to one another and entertain their friends and family. Unaware that the Commander schemes to steal Casilda from her man.
Leonardo seduces Casilda’s naïve cousin Inés (Sol M. Crespo) to get closer to the bride and groom. Casilda rebuffs the Commander several times. Each time he is denied, his obsession grows. He goes mad with longing. You may guess that things aren’t going to end well for all parties, but there are no spoilers here. Hint: There will be blood.
“Peribáñez” was written sometime between 1604 and 1614, but tales of passion, obsession and jealousy never go out of style.
Quantum Theatre’s masterful production of “Peribáñez” is set in an idyllic rose garden (the Rose Garden in Mellon Park). It’s a delightful affair (no pun intended). As in all Quantum shows, the setting enriches the overall experience.
Saunderson is mesmerizing as the handsome hubby and Mihm is the perfect sparring partner. Both men are charismatic and charming in different ways. Saunderson plays a noble peasant in circumstances far above his head. Mihm’s Commander is both charming and malevolent, dashing and dastardly, chewing the sparse scenery.
Pask’s Casilda is beautiful, loving and faithful. Who knew faithfulness would lead to such trouble?
Every actor in the production (and there are quite a few of them) is worthy of special mention. Crespo’s dual roles, Inés and Florez, were distinctly different. Her Inés was a nuanced bridesmaid with love, fears and foibles, and her Florez was deliciously amusing (that tassel though).
Ricardo Vila-Roger played a Priest, a Painter, various guards and townspeople, each character was deftly portrayed. DiGiulio’s Lujan was hilarious. His character starts out as comic relief, but Lujan is given a treacherous job which redefines him as the play speeds toward the end.
The play is lengthy, but, as previously mentioned, the second act gallops to the end. Though a comedy, it has only a handful of big laughs, but it’s a joy to watch because of the slew of talent in the production. Kudos to the duo of directors, Megan Monaghan Rivas and Tlaloc Rivas.
Special mention to Costume Designer and Portrait Artist Samantha Pollack for her incredible talents, both on canvas and on the actor’s bodies. The costumes transport you to the small, Spanish farming community.
“Peribáñez” is the spectacular way to cap off your summer.
Quantum Theatre’s “Peribáñez” is playing through August 28 at the Rose Garden in Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15232. For directions and more information, click here.