Theatre Review: FST
SOUTH BEACH BABYLON
There is so much more to art than what ‘s on the canvas. How much of yourself are you willing to give up for success?
“As an artist myself, this play makes me realize that I am a little fish in a big sea.” – Joan Greenfield, Modern Interior Design
Many people define themselves as an artist. How do you define what real art is? A question explored throughout Michael McKeever’s play, South Beach Babylon. An artist spends most of their time alone, their art is very personal and once displayed to the public, exposes them to judgement by the outside world. Some artists sell their soul, while other’s keep their integrity.
What makes an artist? The artists agent can make or break an artist as you will learn in South Beach Babylon. Priscilla Fernandez plays Semina Mann, a fiery tempered agent representing several artists introduced in the play preparing for Art Basel; Miami’s premier show for artists, displaying some of the most impactful art available to the public. Fernandez is a casting agents dream, her portrayal of this character involves some of the best acting I have seen on FST’s stage. A spit fire on stage, Fernandez gives a performance that carries the play and keeps the audience members laughing, engaged and hanging on her every word, and often times saying, “Wow, she actually said that.” Many times, her facial expressions and body language is all she needs to get her point across.
The curtains open to a cast of eight characters standing on stage in their individual spaces facing a packed audience inside FST’s Gompertz Theatre on Tuesday evening. South Beach Babylon has one of the larger casts I’ve seen in a while. The pace starts off very slow for my liking, however once the play delves deeper into the plot, the pace starts to pick up and grabs my attention.
Artist, Chille Zangorra is as eccentric as an artist gets with his eye patch, tight jeans and inflated ego that constantly needs stroking. Played by Graciany Miranda, a Puerto Rican raised actor whose character is high energy and extremely narcissistic. As a modern artist, his art is in question by his peers who believe his art is more commercialized and not a good representation of a true artist, yet he is the highlighted artist at the world-famous Art Basel.
If you appreciate art and the artists behind them, you will enjoy a behind the scenes look into their lives. It’s not always the best artist who gets the spotlight as much as it is who you know and how far you will go to get what you want. South Beach Babylon provides a story of mystery, deception, betrayal, infidelity, competition and a fight for the spotlight. The ending may surprise you.
The play is fun and at times includes the audience as part of the scene where one of the characters comes into the audience and interacts with them. This is a nice touch and brings smiles to many and keeps them engaged. South Beach Babylon will close on Sunday, August 18th with shows at 3pm and 7pm. You can purchase tickets by phone at (941)366-9000 or online at FloridaStudioTheatre.org, cost ranges between $19. – $42.