Cul de sac - Page 2

Familiar narrative tropes foreshorten Campo Santo's 'Alleluia, the Road'

Alleluia, the Road

Among other problems, the narrative twists and turns in Road feel too well trod already, and too bumpy in terms of characterization or backstory. (These are characters who speak their complexes and motivations with too much ready articulation, leaving little for the audience to interpret or intuit.) At the same time, the use of a choir of voices, bursting now and then into some classic spirituals, tends to feel thematically heavy-handed rather than rousing and meaningful. Aesthetically, instead of genuinely forward leaning, the play ends up seeming derivative of stronger Campo Santo productions of the past.

Directed (like Night) by Cal Shakes' Jonathan Moscone, the action unfurls along a runway playing area, two small stages on either end, and around the audience, but for all its structured intimacy is only sporadically effective. Castellanos and San José deliver the strongest, most intricately crafted performances — and indeed their characters are the more detailed ones. San José also offers a volcanic monologue that's a highlight of the evening. There is a listless and forced feeling to the performances overall, however, which reinforces the sense that this road does not lead anywhere very new.

Who speaks, who is heard, and the power of the word — a major theme connecting not only the stories in Alleluia, the Road but those of the larger Califas project of which it is a part — is a perennially important, and potent, subject for drama. But our ability to connect with it in Road, at least, may require that it be pitched in a new key. *


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