Ah, 'tis a beautiful set at the Colony Theatre where Miami New Drama is presenting Carmen Pelaez' new work “Fake”. An art gallery with bare walls, two exits and two benches, a rotating platform within, featuring the business offices of the gallery. All lighted to perfection.
And then the show begins. Actors sit and talk. And talk. The theatre fills with the peals of exposition, the endless tales of things happening off stage, the repetitious arguments.
Based on Pelaez' own history with art owned in Cuba by her great aunt Amelia Palaez', “Fake'” is the second in her “Amelia” trilogy. The first was her “Rum and Coke,” which ran to raves for three months 1997/1998 at Area Stage when the theatre was still on Lincoln Road.
I was lucky enough to see that show. Can't say as much for “Fake”.
Pelaez plays Camila, an art gallery exec who selects the gallery's Latin offerings. She is pestered by Roman (Philip Hernandez) to hang a just rediscovered painting. He says it's genuine. She doesn't believe him. Her gallery superior, (Carole Monferdini), tells her not to interfere. So does the big boss, Louis, played by Tom Wahl. She, of course, persists. Oh, how the arguments rage.
There's a genial old janitor (James Puig) who, surprise, risks his job for Camila and a Cuban art official, Vivian Ruiz, who delights in thwarting her.
Apart from Wahl and Puig, no one seemed fully prepared. (Ruiz has a minor role.) The performances by Pelaez, Hernandez and Monferdini rose nowhere to the levels promised by their "wow" bios. Hernandez had a lengthy line silence.
Speaking of "wow" bios, director Carl Andress has a mighty one, and assistant director Jessica is no slouch. Strange, then, this weak presentation.
It's a shame to be so negative, especially after the brilliance of work such as Miami New Drama's recent “Our Town.”
Rewriting and work shopping might make “Fake's” future a little brighter.
“Fake” is playing through Feb. 17 at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. 305-674-1040. www.colonymb.org