People often leave theaters grumbling when a show ends with flagrant use of deus ex machina ("God from the machine"), a method sometimes employed to avoid conflict resolution within a story.
Jonathan Margheim, Theatre 'd Art co-founder and director of the upcoming production The Illusion, assures playgoers that this show, despite its use of the bailout technique, spawns no such disappointment.
"Just because the things you see aren't real, does that lessen the emotional impact [they] can have?" he asks. "Does that cheapen the way [emotional responses to theater] can be an all-encompassing thing?"
The Illusion kicks off Theatre 'd Art's 2009-10 season, dubbed the "Season of Illusions" because all four shows deal with the realms of deception and reality in some way. Based on Tony Kushner's free adaptation ("a slash-and-burn campaign," in Margheim's words) of the 17th-century play by Pierre Corneille, The Illusion is essentially a tragic comedy.
Margheim enjoys the fact that vestiges of 17th-century France survive amid the 1990s adaptation and his staging of the play. The story revolves around Pridamant, a lawyer who has sought for years any evidence of his estranged prodigal son. Desperate, he turns to a sorcerer for help, and in return for his plea is given a trio of disturbing and conflicting visions of his son's life — a life featuring sordid affairs, battles, betrayal and murder.
Margheim isn't shy about admitting that The Illusion will leave audiences with an unanswered question at its cynical-meets-happy conclusion. "It addresses both sides [of illusion and reality] without giving any easy answers," he says. "It's why I love it."