Baipás is definitely not the type of play the usual GSP audience is used to
The George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick takes an unusually bold experimental step in presenting Baipás, the English-language premiere of a play by Puerto Rican playwright Jacobo Morales with original music by Javier Diaz. Baipás is not your usual boy-meets-girl romantic play. Instead, it combines the possible blossoming of a relationship between two unlikely soulmates with discourses on life and death, reality and imagination, the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual.
Directed and choreographed by Julio Monge, Baipás runs a quick, tight 90 minutes without intermission. We are introduced to Lorena (Maggie Bofill), a noted fashion designer, and Antonio (Jorge Luna), a successful lawyer. Both are middle-aged; both have been married multiple times and have been unfaithful to their partners. They find themselves in a limbo space, trying to figure out not only where they are but how they got there. And just who or what are those figures they see out there, silently watching their reactions and hearing their arguments—people, spirits, demons, angels, judges, spectators?
To be honest, I was underwhelmed by this production. The pre-show hype led me to believe that this would be a deeply moving evening blending two human needs: understanding on an intellectual level one’s condition of living and connection with another human being. With a setting of a realm between worlds—designed by Wilson Chin, with help from lighting designer Jason Lyons, projections by Caite Hevner, and sound by Germán Martinez, elegantly creating a solid yet otherworldly space for the actors to inhabit—and two actors of skill and talent in Mr. Luna and Ms. Bofill, the playwright could have explored his themes from so many different directions.
He chose to present what seemed to me a fairly mundane romantic drama with a light coating of existentialism as a means to the end of getting the couple together. I found the combination somewhat off-putting but still remained interested in seeing what kind of resolution playwright Morales would reach.
Baipás is definitely not the type of play the usual George Street Playhouse audience is used to. That Artistic Director David Saint chose to produce it is to be commended, as this is a play that is unconventional in many respects, right up to its final blackout, even including a marvelously choreographed expression of mutual sensual and sexual pleasure between the two characters set to the rhythms of the bolero.
I hope Mr. Saint and the George Street Playhouse will be encouraged to take chances by putting plays like Baipàs in front of their subscribers and patrons. Nothing says that something entertaining cannot also provide a challenge to its audiences.
With all of what I considered its flaws (which definitely do not include the acting, the setting, or the choreography). I think that this is a show for those looking for a play with more of an intellectual bite. While I cannot recommend it to the “average” audience member, I do recommend Baipás to more adventurous playgoers.
Baipás is presented by the George Street Playhouse at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center through March 20th. For tickets, or to get more information, call 732-246-7717 or visit georgestreetplayhouse.org.
The New Brunswick Performing Arts Center requires proof of vaccination including a booster, or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of your performance, for entry into the building, and masks must be worn at all times inside the building.
Transparency: Allen Neuner, our theatre reviewer, is employed by the George Street Playhouse in its patron services office.