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A CurtainUp Review
The Mark of Zorro

"But there might come a time when you need to defend yourself and others. To fight, not because you want to, but because you must."— Alejandro
Mark ofZorro
Zorro ("fox" in Spanish), a masked outlaw who defends common people against criminals and tyrannical soldiers in the pueblo of Los Angeles has been delighting children and adults ever since pulp writer Johnston McCulley created him in 1919. With his black cape, black stallion and sword by his side, the swashbuckling hero, who is really Don Diego de la Vega, the son of a colonial nobleman, has appeared in numerous books and films (the 1920 silent film The Mark of Zorro starred Douglas Fairbanks) and a television series running from 1957 to 1959.

It is most probably the TV series that grandparents who take their grandchildren to Visible Fictions' The Mark of Zorro at The New Victory Theater will remember best. It is narrated and performed by a cast of three, Tim Settle, Denise Hoey and Neil Thomas). They use a script by Davey Anderson, enhanced by cardboard cutouts and Dav id Trouton's enticing music. The show is directed by Douglas Irvine, who seems to have a perfect understanding of the infinite boundaries of children's imaginations.

The play traces Zorro's history, from the murder of his father through his becoming the trusted servant of his father's friend, Don Carlos Quintero, governor of California, to his emergence as the masked hero. There are a few good sword fights, plenty of close calls and daring escapes, and burgeoning love (Isabella, the governor's daughter quickly falls in love with Zorro, not realizing he is really the faithful Diego).

Like all good children's shows, The Mark of Zorro is infused with a great deal of humor. The bad guys are so bad we have to laugh at them. Because, as children know so well, sometimes the best way to defeat evil is just to make fun of it.

The show's designer, Robin Peoples, has created a wonderfully versatile set with panels that open and close to reveal formerly hidden spaces. Prison cells, stables, inner and outer rooms and the wide open country all appear within seconds.

The Mark of Zorro tells a complicated if familiar story. It takes a lot of imagination and attention to follow the plot as it alternates between narration and dialogue. But the children seem completely and enthusiastically up to the task.

At seventy minutes, this is a bit long for a children's show. But it is so visually inventive and the story so intriguing the time, like Zorro, gallops by.

The Mark of Zorro
Written by Davey Anderson
Directed by Douglas Irvine
Cast: Tom Settle, Denise Hoey, Neil Thomas
Designer: David Trouton
Lighting Designer: Simon Wilkinson
Fight Choreographer: Raymond Short
Stage Manager: Roy Fairhead
The New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd Street, ww.newvictory.org
Running Time: 70 minutes, no intermission
From 2/8/13; closing 2/24/23
Tickets: $25, $18, $12 and $9 for members and $38, $28, $18 and $14 for Non-members based on seat locations
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Feb. 9, 2013
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