If you identity as a male, there is a chance that the ushers of the Polonsky Shakespeare Center will find you huddled under your chair, your head dangling in shame, and offering a mea culpa to the female species after a performance of their current production of Richard Maxwell’s Isolde.
Maxwell, who both wrote and directed the work, has written a smart, insightful, and challenging piece which examines a distorted love triangle between Isolde (Tory Vazquez), her contractor husband, Patrick (Jim Fletcher), and architect Massimo (Gary Wilmes). Isolde is an actress, attempting with all of her might to memorize her lines but finding them slip away. She herself is slipping away, primarily due to daily testosterone festival around her. Sure, she is welcome to whatever she wants as both she and Patrick build their dream house. Yet she is subjugated by a spouse who views her as “kind of a daughter and a wife.” One might think that an understanding, kind soul of benevolence would enter the picture, but…nope. Turns out that Massimo, who has been hired to oversee the building of the new home is just as much of a pompous blow-hard as Patrick. Still, Isolde falls for him and before long, as the song goes, they are “doing it like they do on the Discovery channel.” Patrick’s friend, Uncle Jerry (Brian Mendes) rounds out this trio of dunces, offering little more than keeping the sofa warm during a football game.
While the script is meant to be delivered in a cold, detached manner, the cast (New York City Players) have carefully managed to strip away the fat and cut to the core of what it means to relate to one another. Consciously or subconsciously, our words and actions can (and do) influence and shape those whom we profess to love-for better or for worse. Isolde solidifies the notion that quality theater should be both thoughtful and deeply felt. It’s not Matilda. It’s Maxwell. And you’ll be all the better for having seen it.
Isolde is playing now through September 27th at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center 262 Ashland Pl. Brooklyn. For tickets and info, visit tfana.org/