“Marisol” unleashes celestial war across unique staging

How does anyone survive in the rubble of an angel revolt against a senile god? This question is explored in the Berrie Center’s current production of José Rivera’s “Marisol,” a play exploring chaos and each individual’s role amidst it, which opened on Nov. 11.

The play follows Marisol Perez, a young Puerto Rican woman who has worked hard to become a copy editor for a Manhattan publisher. She is devoted to God and places her hope in him, but one day her guardian angel comes to tell her that God has been in power too long and is dragging the world down as his mind fades. The angels wage a war on God, leading to an apocalypse of epic proportions where Marisol, lost alone in the streets, needs to find her strength to survive.

As always, the Berrie Center has already done a fantastic job and elevated the play to a breathtaking level with the actors’ performances, directional choices, set and costume designs, lighting and visual effects, and sound management all playing a crucial role.

The creative set up of the stage, with its use of platforms to show the scene’s multiple levels and garbage below them to show the littered city streets, as well as the in-character vocal involvement of the cast during scene transitions provided a seamless experience of the story, allowing the audience’s investment and captivation to rise continuously.

Emphasized by its use of lighting and sound, this immersion gave the hearts of those watching a context within which they could connect to the personal struggles of the characters beyond the greater insanity of the world.

Each actor’s interpretation and performance of their character(s) was extraordinary and meaningful. Junior Gaby Henriquez, the actor starring as the play’s titular character Marisol Perez, described how difficult it was to explore the intense journey and extreme emotional lows their character experiences during the show. Bringing such an emotionally charged story to the stage is an involved process, and Henriquez’s part in that required a lot of studying the script, along with in-depth character work in order to connect with Marisol. As shown by their stellar performance, they were successful in this.

“I see a lot of Marisol in myself, just the way she acts and presents herself,” Henriquez said. “So becoming her was just facets of myself plus other things that were given in the script.”

This connection easily transmits to the audience. With powerful acting, design and effects, the immersive quality of this production aids in allowing each member of the audience to feel that they are really in the story, experiencing the chaos of the world around them just like Marisol.

In turn, while the lack of control from the world’s insanity that so many of us feel each day is presented onstage, there is also a call to action. A call to stop letting destiny be controlled by the influence of outside forces, to take back our own power, and to fight for a world we believe in. When you leave the theater, you have that message coursing through your veins. Take action, feel the influence and control and strength you can have amongst such chaos. And when you do: “Oh God, what light. The possibility… what hope.”

The show will have three more performances from Nov. 17 until Nov. 19 at 8 p.m., so don’t miss your opportunity to see this powerful performance. Tickets are $5 for Ramapo Students and $15 otherwise at the Berrie Center box office.



Photo courtesy of Mason Murphy.