The Conduct of Life

Teatro Circulo, Manhattan

By Andrew Andrews

Nena (Déa Julien) cowers from Orlando (Dakota Granados) as he sits before her in BOUNDLESS Theatre Company’s production of The Conduct of Life at Teatro Circulo. Original photo by Al Foote III.

María Irene Fornés knows how to write a play about the human condition.

Elena Araoz knows how to direct a play by María Irene Fornés.

Long-time readers might recall how we were blown away by BOUNDLESS Theatre Company’s production of MUD at Teatro Circulo last October.

If so, it should come as no surprise that we were thrilled to learn that Araoz would be directing a production of Fornés’ work there again this year.

And they did not disappoint.

Now, The Conduct of Life has little in common with MUD beyond certain similarities:

Short scenes that begin at full speed and stop on a dime? Check.

Intense, gripping drama? Check.

Characters that delve into the depths of the human condition and elevate it to the surface for full exposure? Check and double-check:

Orlando (Dakota Granados) is the officer in an unspecified Latin American army with an unquenchable desire to inflict pain on the innocent.

Leticia (Anna Grosse) is the wife who has “an opinion about every damn thing” and “can’t shut [her] mouth” about it.

Olimpia (Monica Steuer) is the housekeeper who doesn’t just run the house, she RUNS THE HOUSE… and she’s as quick to tell you about the boring details as she is to put you in your place when you challenge her authority.

Nena (Déa Julien) is Orlando’s victim.

And then there’s Alejo (Terrell Wheeler): Orlando’s comrade. Or is he?

Now, the story itself is a little more choppy—a little less complete—than MUD. And the handsome, early modern set (Regina García) that dutifully represents different rooms in Orlando and Leticia’s household depending on which lights (María Cristina Fusté) are illuminated, has a couple of blind spots that are best avoided by arriving early enough to snag seats in the front row on any of the three available sides to the stage.

But on that set, decked out in gorgeous costumes by Harry Nadal, with sound by Nathan Leigh and physical contact expertly choreographed by UnkleDave’s Fight-House, this cast delivers a performance that well-deserves the accolades that continued long, long after the actors took their bows and left the stage.

So check it out, then come back here and tell us whether you agree.

Whether BOUNDLESS’ production delivers too much intensity for you to handle, or you agree that Granados’ perfect push-ups alone are worth a round of applause, your reviews help others decide whether they should attend, and your ratings help us help you find future performances you’re sure to love!

Andrew Andrews attended The Conduct of Life at Teatro Circulo in Manhattan on Saturday, September 8, 2018 @ 12:34pm to write this review.