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‘The Good Person of Setzuan’ inspires a sense of wonder

%28l-r%29+David+Cochran+as+Mr.+Shu+Fu%2C+Ingrid+Trov%C3%A3o+as+Shui+Ta%2C+and+Mrs.+Mi+Tzu+in+The+Good+Person+of+Setzuan+on+Oct.+1%2C+2015+at+Palomars+Studio+Theatre.+%28Claudia+Rodriguez%2FThe+Telescope%29
(l-r) David Cochran as Mr. Shu Fu, Ingrid Trovão as Shui Ta, and Mrs. Mi Tzu in ‘The Good Person of Setzuan’ on Oct. 1, 2015 at Palomar’s Studio Theatre. (Claudia Rodriguez/The Telescope)
(L-R) David Cochran as Mr. Shu Fu, Ingrid Trovão as Shui Ta, and Mrs. Mi Tzu in 'The Good Person of Setzuan' on Oct. 1 at Palomar's Studio Theatre. Claudia Rodriguez/The Telescope
(L-R) David Cochran as Mr. Shu Fu, Ingrid Trovão as Shui Ta, and Mrs. Mi Tzu in ‘The Good Person of Setzuan’ on Oct. 1 at Palomar’s Studio Theatre. Claudia Rodriguez/The Telescope

“If enough good people can be found, the world can stay as it is,” the Gods decree.

‘The Good Person of Setzuan’ opened Palomar’s Fall 2015 theater season on Oct. 2 to a large crowd at Palomar’s Studio Theatre.

The play, written by Bertolt Brecht and adapted by Tony Kushner, was directed by Michael Mufson. It revolves around a dark theme, a decree from the Gods as they search the world for a good person. It raises the question, “Is it possible to be good and remain good in a world that values profit over kindness and rewards greed and brutality rather than compassion and goodness?”

The play brings you into a foreign world, of the poverty-stricken city of Setzuan. Guided by Wang, the lively water seller perfectly portrayed by Heather Fiore, the Gods attempt to find a place to stay. The Gods; played by Garrett Sanders, Justin Hoover, and Bryan Levin; clad in impeccable white suits stand in stark contrast to the poor citizens of Setzuan. After being turned away numerous times, the Gods end up at the home of Shen Te, a prostitute. Shen Te, they decide, is the good person that they have searched the world to find.

(L-R) Bryce Ayers as the policeman, Heather Fiore as Wang, and Martina Hila as Mrs. Shin speak with Ingrid Trovão's Shui Ta (not pictured) during Palomar's 'The Good Person of Setzuan' on Oct. 1 at Palomar's Studio Theatre. Claudia Rodriguez/The Telescope
(L-R) Bryce Ayers as the policeman, Heather Fiore as Wang, and Martina Hila as Mrs. Shin speak with Ingrid Trovão’s Shui Ta (not pictured) during Palomar’s ‘The Good Person of Setzuan’ on Oct. 1 at Palomar’s Studio Theatre. Claudia Rodriguez/The Telescope

Shen Te, played magnificently by Ingrid Trovão, gives up her former profession and opens a business, with money given to her from the Gods. She sincerely attempts to embrace her new role as a good person and do good, helping her neighbors. Quickly, the people of Setzuan use Shen Te’s goodness to their advantage. Shen Te finds the cost of good deeds to be high and creates an alter ego, in the form of her ruthless businessman of a cousin Shui Ta, in order to protect herself and her interests.

Trovão’s Shen Te and Shui Ta are both complex characters and Trovão does an excellent job of giving each their own personality, while staying true to the fact that there is truly only one character, Shen Te. Trovão is in every scene of the over three-hour play. In some moments the audience forgets that there is only one actor playing both Shen Te and Shui Ta due to the differences in voice, mannerisms and composure given to each by Trovão.

Ingrid Trovão as Shen Te and Anthony Sucari as Yang Sun toast their relationship in 'The Good Person of Setzuan' on Oct. 1 at Palomar's Studio Theatre. Claudia Rodriguez/The Telescope
Ingrid Trovão as Shen Te and Anthony Sucari as Yang Sun toast their relationship in ‘The Good Person of Setzuan’ on Oct. 1 at Palomar’s Studio Theatre. Claudia Rodriguez/The Telescope

‘Setzuan’ has a large cast with more than 20 designated roles, some returning actors and many new actors. Each actor helps move the play along in an unexpected way and always keeps the audience engaged, which is an accomplishment for such a long play. The Gods lend a humorous tone to the play with their entrances and exits. Anthony Suraci’s Yang Sun, an unemployed pilot who becomes Shen Te’s fiancé, stuns with his emotional range and stage presence.

The play is very immersive, the stage and audience wrap around each other effortlessly. The stage intersects parts of the audience. This lends to the water seller’s interaction with the audience.

Director Mufson said, “It brings people into the world, it breaks down the barrier between the actor and the audience, which is something that Brecht was famous for, breaking the fourth wall.”

“There was a lot of collaboration between music, dance, and theater on the project,” he added. Many different Palomar departments aided in the production and helped with details that brought the city of Setzuan and the play vividly to life on the small stage.

Those who arrived early were treated to a pre-show from some Palomar’s dancers. Live music was performed by The Dapper Bandits and seamlessly changed the mood or scene with a beautiful tune.

The entire play carried on flawlessly, making it hard to chose a favorite moment. Mufson said, “I hope it inspires a sense of wonder, a sense of questioning, and a desire to really ask, does the world have to be the way it is or can we change it?” From the reaction seen in the audience, it appears he succeeded.

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‘The Good Person of Setzuan’ inspires a sense of wonder