Inspired by Tirso de Molina’s “La Celosa De Si Misma,” THE BLADE OF JEALOUSY time-machined from seventeenth century Spain to today’s Los Angeles in the blink of an eye. Playwright Henry Ong first performed this time traveler’s trick in 2015 after selecting de Molina’s play from a catalog of hundreds just waiting to be re-discovered. He simply couldn’t resist this droll piece about a woman who became insanely jealous – of herself.
Melchor (Terry Woodberry) has journeyed all the way from Cedar Rapids to LA with his buddy Ventura (Eddie Mui) for an in-person meeting with the woman he fell for online. While hurrying to their meeting, he encounters an enigmatic veiled woman who sets his heart racing and his mind reeling. Suddenly, his online connection has lost all appeal; and he will move heaven and earth to again meet the mysterious Magdalena (Natalie Amenula). But Melchor is a man who keeps his commitments – and so he follows through with meeting his online sweetheart. But, alas, the fire is simply not there. Even if, unbeknownst to him, his online girlfriend and his veiled vixen are one and the same person.
Enter Magdalena’s brother Jeronimo (Juan Haro) who happens upon Angela (Carla Valina), the woman of his dreams. To his dismay, Angela prefers Melchor (who must be a real lady killer) to anyone else in her life. Comic relief is provided by Magdalena’s bodyguard Quinones (Cynthia Dane), who is definitely out to get whatever is available – and that can be love, money, and almost anything else. The lives of these six principals weave in and out to the rhythms of street musician Longo Chu. To paraphrase Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well – and, like all fun farces, the hopeless jumble eventually works itself right. Special kudos to director and costume designer Denise Blasor, who cleverly dresses the cast in an amalgam of old and new and also manages to keep the story briskly moving along. Derrick McDaniel’s lighting, Longo Chu’s sound, and Diana Cignoni’s video design bring the narrative to life. The cast seems to be having as much fun as their contemporary characters.
THE BLADE OF JEALOUSY is resurrected on the template of a Gay Nineties melodrama, showcasing exaggerated words, gestures, and situations. For those who miss this historic theatrical modality, the play will resonate, amuse, and entertain. It is a simple style which aims to please without encumbering the audience with profound backstories and deep philosophical ideas. Laughs and pleasure are the blade’s currency. As such, THE BLADE OF JEALOUSY successfully recreates theater originally conceived in the seventeenth century. Let’s hope that Tirso de Molina, pen name for the Catholic friar who authored the piece, approves of this modern rendering over 400 years later.
THE BLADE OF JEALOUSY runs through August 26, 2018, with performances at 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 91423. Tickets are $25. For information and reservations, go online.