Home Arts that kid will be the death of us

that kid will be the death of us

by Archives October 28, 2008

If you were imprisoned by your father at birth and made to suffer long years in a lonely tower, what would you do upon being given your freedom?
Last Wednesday marked the opening night of Scapegoat Carnivale’s Life is a Dream, a Spanish classic rarely performed in English. This story of fate, honour, and free will was written by 17th century playwright Pedro Calderon de la Barca.
Andreas Aspergis plays Segismundo, the wild child son of King Basilio of Poland (Leni Parker). Segismundo’s mother dies during childbirth, foreshadowing the king’s prophesy that the prince will cause the kingdom’s downfall. To avert this disaster, King Basilio has Segismundo locked up in a barren mountain tower and enlists a loyal nobleman named Clotaldo (Peter Batakliev) to act as the prince’s jailer.
Many years later, the wizened king still lacks a heir. He softens and announces to the court that he will give his son a chance to see if he can be a wise ruler; if not, he will be thrown back in jail. Within minutes of being freed, Segismundo murders a palace guard and attempts rape. This is no fairy tale.
The rest of the play follows the prince as he gets re-incarcerated and struggles to overcome his fate. Subplots involving the rest of the royal family keep the audience from becoming too absorbed in Segismundo’s doom and gloom.
Life is a Dream is graced by a strong ensemble cast, with a breakout performance by Aspergis. As Segismundo, he is in turn terrifying and pathetic, princely and beastly, animated and subdued. Aspergis even managed to elicit laughs from the audience, not an easy task for a character who supposedly burst forth from his mother’s womb like a monster.
Set designer Sarah Yaffe did justice to the story with sparse staging. The actors performed barefoot on the sand strewn across the floor, which lent the play a vaguely mystical feel.
The first half crawled along initially, but was saved by the comedic duo of Dusan Dukic and Donovan Reiter as foppish palace musicians. The second half evolved at a much faster pace as the characters fumbled and fought their way towards the dramatic conclusion.
If there is one thing that viewers can take away from the play, it is this: all life may be a dream, but you can choose to dream lucidly.

Life is a Dream runs at the Centaur Theatre (453 St-Fran

Related Articles

Leave a Comment