The Illusion, the latest play by the Cayman Drama Society to run at the Prospect Playhouse, is all about life’s possibilities and the way we look at them, and take advantage of them, or hold back. The play, by Tony Kushner, was adapted from Pierre Corneille’s 17th century comedy, L’illusion Comique, and follows a contrite father, Pridamant, who is seeking news of the son from whom he has become estranged, from Alcandre, the sorcerer. He is willing to pay the sorcerer a lot of money to gain knowledge about how his son is getting on. There ensues a series of visions within the cave, where Pridamant can see into different stages of his son’s life, from where his son left him, to where he marries and grows older.
The disturbing thing about these images, which are really a series of little plays within the main play, is that although in each one the father appears to be seeing the son, and those around him, both his son’s name and the names of all the other characters keep changing; so we are left with the disturbing impression that what we (as the audience and the father) are really seeing are a series of possibilities; and by the end of the play we are not sure whether we have seen things that are real, or not.
The father keeps wanting to know more, but the sorcerer is only prepared to reveal so much. His purpose seems to be to reveal the father’s own heart, so that each of the vignettes appear not so much revealing the fact of what has happened, as revealing the state of the father’s own heart in the way he reacts to what he is seeing; like a series of mirrors-to-the-soul.
Stephen Wise who plays the part of Pridamant said: “It’s interesting because the character is troubled and troubled characters are more complex. They give you a greater range to play with. This is a very dynamic character – he goes through a lot of changes and it’s more of a challenge for me. I think of it as community theatre is important for young people to give them an opportunity find out if they can do this. There is a lot of talent on Island but very few venues for them to develop them. Theatre is a public art, you come and you participate as an audience; you come and you laugh with one another or get upset – you are moved as a community. It is important for the larger community to make those connections – it humanizes the community. It educates us and draws us together.”
Paul de Freitas, Director of the local production, explained why he chose the play: “Basically we need something that continues to expand the dramatic arts in Cayman. We don’t want to do the ‘same-old-same-old.’ The Illusion is challenging because you have got to come up with three illusions. You have got to come up with a method of staging them that is either believable, or at least the audience can hang their imagination and say yes that happened so it is the art of making the audience believe what they are dreaming in their own mind when they see the scene.”
Liam Oko Plays two different characters, “One is the main character’s son’s rival and then I come back and play a different character, Matamor who is a big buffoon,” he said. “What I liked about this show is it is a very different show. It’s not your average night in the theatre.