A solo show in a venue under the flight path and meant for dance performances: what an appropriate way to welcome Intrepid Theatre Company back to San Diego.
Intrepid has a history of being scrappy and producing in less-than-ideal spaces. Passionate San Diego theatregoers found them at the old Sixth and Penn space that was a mile wide and an inch deep. Even more passionate theatregoers found them in a storefront along the trolley line in San Diego’s East Village. And, they produced a doozy of a show in an old movie theatre in Carlsbad.
A lot of Intrepid’s shows were doozies. Many of them won Craig Noel Awards, given annually by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle. So, when an opportunity came for Sean Yael-Cox and Christy Yael-Cox to practice their art in Canada, passionate San Diego theatregoers were disappointed but hopeful that they would return.
And, they have.
Sean is the performer in The Thousandth Night, by Carol Wolf. His performance meets the passion of his audience, and the play echoes the commitments to resisting oppression, both governmental and personal, that the company has championed in its work.
Ms. Wolf’s play was developed for Southern California actor Ron Campbell. It is set in France during the Nazi occupation. It was a time when neighbor turned against neighbor, friend against friend, in order to survive. Those who didn’t comply were likely to be shipped off on trains to what turned out to be the vilest of concentration camps.
A man named Guy DeBonheur gets off a train, knowing that he needs to convince his captors that his presence there is a mistake, that he should be allowed to return to his home instead of boarding the next train, which will take him to an uncertain but disturbing future. The man is an itinerant theatre artist, and he carries the tools of his craft with him. His words are all that can save him, so he resorts to what the classic character, Scheherazade, did in One Thousand and One Nights: he tells stories.
The stories come spilling out as if his life depended on it. After all, One Thousand and One Nights ends in victory. But, this version of it looks iffy from the start.
Mr. Campbell took Ms. Wolf’s play to festivals, such as Edinburgh, and it did well there. Mr. Yael-Cox has followed the same path, with a similar result. The play is well-suited to the festival environment. It can be done simply with little in the way of production values, and it runs close to an hour, the right length for festival production. In Liberty Station’s White Box Theatre, there is room for simple lighting, some sound effects other than the occasional airplane take-off, costumes and props. The program credits two San Diego actors, Jason Heil and Skyler Sullivan, with direction and “Clown Consultant” respectively.
But, the evening belongs to Mr. Yael-Cox, as it should. He embodies his character, playing both the smarminess and the heroism. The message is that evil should be resisted at all costs. At. All. Costs.
The production popped up suddenly, and it will be gone November 3. The best news, though, is that Intrepid Theatre Company is back.