PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Directors and writers who revisit the classics of the theater love to suggest their contemporary relevance. Often that’s a stretch, but not in the case of Trinity Rep’s reworking of Lope de Vega’s “Like Sheep to Water,” penned four centuries ago, but all too familiar to fans of CNN and the evening news.
He may not tweet in the middle of the night or hang out in an “Access Hollywood” trailer, but Fred Sullivan Jr.’s abusive Spanish captain seems awfully familiar, the way he has his way with women, makes up his own rules and considers himself far above the law.
But Commander Gomez gets away with murder for just so long. There is sweet revenge to be had, revenge that in the end involves the entire audience.
Artistic director Curt Columbus and director Mark Valdez have wisely maintained a sense of history in the costumes and sets, even some of the music, just to make the analogy all the more clear, just to remind us that egomaniacal dictators have been around for a long time.
But while the play, which clocks in at just two hours, has a kind of antique formality, it is filled with human moments, with lovers’ spats and the like.
We feel the pain of the terrorized residents of the little village of Fuente Ovejuna, which roughly translates as “the watering place for sheep.” And we all know who the sheep are after watching Sullivan’s brutal Commander Gomez rip a young bride from her wedding party and pass her among his men like a party favor.
Read the full review by Channing Gray from the Providence Journal here.