'The Pearlfisher' review Published: Thursday, November 06, 2008, 1:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 06, 2008, 1:11 AM By James Yate
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- CSI's Department of Performing and Creative Arts' presentation of "The Pearlfisher" was a visual beauty.
The highlight was the river banks which was presented as an architectual gem in wood-framed multi-level-real-water banks in Pei-Wen Huang's design. Leaves on the trees cast a perfect shadow on the set and even change colors through the seasons with Michael Deegan's lights.
It all made for a gorgeous playing area for the five-member cast, Danielle Hernandez, Steven Hudacko, Alison Langleiben, Thomas Reilly and Omar Sattar, who are all convincing in their roles which also required they mix languages like farsi. Maurya Wickstrom directs a tender love story/struggle for preservation.
Iain MacLeod's Scottish play takes a look at life through nomadic Travellers who contend with nature, locals and stereotypes to earn a living. Presented in two acts, MacLeod sets up the story in 1948 and then revists the players nearly 50 years later.
Steven Hudacko is the Act I pearlfisher who finds tiny gems in the fresh water river to be sold. Hudacko, who also pulls double-duty as assistant director is quite capable as the respectful, honest and caring fisherman who befriends a young woman, Jess (Alison Langleiben) who appears to be in a loveless relationship with Roderick (Thomas Reilly) always ready to pick a fight and benefit from work he has not done. Joining the pearfisher as traveller is Etta (Danielle Hernandez) who sells flowers and Willie (Omar Sattar) who trades and rides horses.
Langleiben's Jess is a stage natural and falls in love with Ali and risks being shunned by family and likely suitors. She then fears for her future and the future of her offspring.
In the second act we see the off-spring who now live in trailers and still are in fear of their lifestyle and livlihood. Hernandez is the steady carry-over from act one who tells the story of what happened with the pearlfisher.
The biggest challenge was in scene changes that required crew members to carry on furniture and props. While the crew did a fine job in making changes quickly, their presence interrupted the flow of action and thus momentum, especially in the quick transition scenes.