Politics and Pretensions

A similar problem bedevils the usually superb John Felix in the very difficult role of Miranda. In certain instances, you just cherish his silent frustration, his oily charm, his upper-class outrage, but then he suddenly pushes all these natural affectations up a notch and "acts." Alas, the connection to reality and the impact is gone. Only Michael Gioia as Escobar triumphs despite everything. His portrayal runs from fast and frantic to weak and burdened without ever shedding the natural rhythm of fine theater. It is for the greatness of Dorfman's script in its active moments and for Gioia's performance that I recommend this production.

The shadowy blue set by H. Paul Mazer and exceptional lighting by Betsy Cardwell also contribute quality without pretension. In fact, for the most part, the whole presentation appears adequate, especially to those who have not seen the play at its best. But the discerning eye will find what is wrong with this picture: an effort to be great that borders on an annoying hubris.

Of course, it's better to go slightly over the top than way under it. With $105,000 in hurricane relief funds from the Dade County Cultural Affairs Council, new leadership by McVeigh and actress Ellen Beck, a new home at the Carrusel Theater and renewed dedication, the Florida Shakespeare Festival shows every sign of producing some mighty magic in the future. The secret to success lies simply in its ability, in that future, to take a deep breath and calm down.

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