Alchemy of Desire/Dead-Man's Blues

Grief transforms us in many ways, separating our past from our future and who we were from who we'll be. How we cope with this suffering, and how our family, friends, and community help us heal, shapes what we become.

In the Bug Theatre Company's current production of Caridad Svich's Alchemy of Desire/Dead-Man's Blues, a newly married couple is separated forever by a war, yet united again in a languid netherworld floating somewhere between the gris-gris of the bayou and the tropical killing fields an ocean away. The recipe for this alchemical transformation is a spicy mix of the playwright's gifted, poetic imagery; the smoky, humid setting; a blossoming long-distance telepathic chemistry between lovers; and the rhythmic space-time conjured by the ensemble/chorus.

Photo of Mare Trevathan Philpott as Simone
Mare Trevathan Philpott
Mare Trevathan Philpott as Simone, the widowed bride, sets the stage for this tale, recounting in a swampy drawl the short-lived, yet palpable bond with her husband Jamie. Philpott's dreamy style spiked with sudden, startling moments of realization, lulls us, then hooks us, then reels us in.

Photo of Josh Gaffga as Jamie
Josh Gaffga

Josh Gaffga is Jamie, a down home good old boy, who charms us with conflicting currents of bravado and sentimentality, a Don Juan cured of womanizing by Simone's je ne sais quoi.

The chorus of women folk, GerRee Hinshaw, Misha Johnson, Jaime Lujan, and Karen Slack, stir this remarkable gumbo of language, movement, and emotion, providing support and commentary for the goings-on. Their Cajun voodoo broom dance puts Macbeth's weird sisters to shame.

Playwright Caridad Svich's astonishing vision is something to behold in this well-directed effort by Donna Morrison. That out of such grief can come so touching a vision is heartening. The Bug Theatre Company's production of Alchemy of Desire/Dead-man's Blues runs through March 29th. 303-477-9984.

Bob Bows


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