5C students performed Jose Rivera’s play “Marisol” at Pomona College’s Seaver Theatre on March 1-4, garnering positive reviews from audience members.
The main character, Marisol, played by Anais Gonzalez Nyberg PO ’20, is a Puerto Rican woman living in New York during the 1990s. Magical realism — an artistic genre that portrays a realistic story but incorporates surrealism — is an important element of this play.
In the play, Marisol dreams that a guardian angel, played by Aliyah Muhammad PO ’19, visits to tell her that the angels are going to war with a senile “God” because the world is dying. Marisol does not want the angel to leave her side and has to come to terms with the troublesome reality of the world around her.
Gonzalez Nyberg reflected on the duality between the realistic and imaginative elements of the play. While at times the story seemed fantastic, she said it portrayed a more extreme version of our current society.
“I think it’s relatable in that, right now, so many things are going on politically and environmentally, which makes it feel like the world is falling apart,” Gonzalez Nyberg said. “I think that’s what’s happening in the play because it’s just Jose Rivera bringing in all these different things like how credit unions were ruining people’s lives at the time, these issues about women never feeling safe, and faith in the sense of what are people putting their faith into. Is it actually God or institutions or money?”
Audience member Alexa Sanchez SC ’21 agreed on this point.
“It was a really good show,” Sanchez said. “I thought it was complex in a good way and an interesting visual experience. There were a lot of newspapers that were really interesting. There was an advertisement on the wall that changed throughout the show, which was cool.”
Gonzalez Nyberg added that even if the play conveyed a magical mood to the audience, the events that occured still felt real to the characters.
“It is also knowing that our characters exist in a world where they believe everything that’s going on around them, like Marisol, [who] believes everything that’s happening to her,” Gonzalez Nyberg said. “It is the worst day of her life, and that is very true for her.”
Annarose Hunt SC ’21, who played a homeless person in “Marisol,” spoke highly of Gonzalez Nyberg and Muhammad as both actresses and cast-members.
“My favorite part of the show was the angel scene because Aliyah and Anais are so good, and everything they do I want them to do more of it. They’re both so talented,” Hunt said. “Getting to know people and having this be my debut in Pomona theater was really great.”
Muhammad agreed this role was a particularly impactful one to perform.
“To be able to play a strong, protective, yet vulnerable woman was challenging and thrilling,” Muhammad said. “I loved being able to create that maternal connection with the character Marisol within seconds of the Angel stepping foot on solid ground.”