Cloud Tectonics

When Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity was first presented in 1905, there were plenty of doubters, yet even today, nearly a century later, while Relativity has become a cornerstone of physics, there is little understanding of the consequences of such thinking. For example, such a thing as elementary as time, which so many of us take for granted as an immutable force measured by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years, becomes, in Einstein's universe, a phenomena inseparable from space, mass, energy, gravity, and acceleration relative to light.

Photo of Bethany LaVoo as Celestina del Sol
Bethany LaVoo as Celestina del Sol
Photo by Todd Webster
For most people, the mathematical and logical propositions that underlie relativity are incomprehensible. That is why we have art. In the regional premiere of Jose Rivera's Cloud Tectonics, now in production by the Curious Theatre Company, Celestina de la Sol is a woman for whom time barely exists—clocks stop in her presence, companions cease aging, and love, it seems, is everywhere.

A physicist could only assume that Celestina moves at the speed of light or is filled with light, which, in human terms, means she is a light being, a specter not of this world, an angel perhaps. Yet there she is, pregnant, standing by the side of the road, hitchhiking in the-rainstorm-of-the-century in LA. Anibal de la Luna, who stops to pick her up and offers her shelter for the night, learns she has been pregnant for two years; he, along with his long-lost brother, ends up falling in love with this elusive, radiant woman.

While it is easy to dismiss Rivera's tale as Magical Realism, and, in fact, he did study with Gabriel García Márquez, the playwright and his fellow fabulists such as Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Fuentes, and Isabel Allende insist that their seemingly extraordinary ideas are simply reports of everyday real events, and who's to say they aren't?

Whether she is rattling off recollections in Spanish of her parents, expounding on the transcendence of love, or envisioning a post-quake Los Angeles as a classless polyglot and future capitol of the United States, Bethany LaVoo's gentle radiance makes us believe in Celestina's purity of heart, and thus in her light speed timelessness.

Robert Mason Ham, as Anibal, exudes heartfelt sincerity and compassion, while remaining an ordinary working stiff, with dreams of a family and a better life. Adrian Benedetti carries off Nelson's over-the-top romanticism and disillusionment with passion and understanding.

Directed by Chip Walton, Cloud Tectonics delivers the mythical vision of Rivera's script with ease: it rains, time stops, and we are touched by angelic love. It runs through June 15th at the Acoma Center. 303-623-0524.

Bob Bows


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