Review: 'The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit' at Fremont Centre Theatre
Ray Bradbury's venerated work in the science-fiction genre can overshadow the comic side of his talent. Such is the gentle appeal of "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" at Fremont Centre Theatre. This resourcefully appointed Pandemonium Theatre Company revival of Bradbury's tickling parable about five Latinos who yearn for the title apparel is as light as a scoop of vanilla, with just enough unforced spice to maintain its pertinence.
First presented as part of a 1965 trilogy, "Ice Cream Suit" became a freestanding effort in 1972, produced by the Organic Theatre of Chicago. It transpires in a fanciful East Los Angeles, which designer John Edw. Blankenchip shrewdly depicts in barrio-hued flats that mask an array of inventive spatial effects.
The sleekly tailored, blindingly white suit (courtesy of costumer Kathryn Poppen) carries magic, at least for the quintet who pool their resources to buy it. Lovelorn narrator Martinez (Eddie Ruiz) wants to woo beautiful Celia (Verona Masongsong). Idealistic revolutionary Villanazul (Joaquin Garay III) hopes to be a commanding orator. Gomez (Rudy Rodriguez) and Dominguez (Adrian Elizondo) have less-exalted womanizing aims. The wild card: grimy laborer Vamenos (Daniel V. Graulau), longing to raise his social status.
Their time-shared ownership unfolds in episodic vignettes, climaxing when Vamenos wears the suit to the roughest dive in town. Enter good-time girl Ruby (Joy Nash) and Toro (Paul Renteria), her brutish boyfriend. The fracas that results is a slow-motion hoot, realized by director Alan Neal Hubbs, Blankenchip, lighting designer Peter Strauss and the cast to the hilt, followed by a sweetly communal moral.
Some transitions are clunky, some playing more spirited than polished, though consistently sincere. Still, if it's a wee piece, "Ice Cream Suit" wears well and should charm devotees.
-- David C. Nichols
"The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit," Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. $20. (323) 960-4451. Running time: 1 hour.
Photo: Daniel V. Graulau, Joy Nash and Paul Renteria. Credit: Ed Krieger.