By Jose Rivera
Produced by Rorschach Theatre
Reviewed by Ronnie Ruff
Scott McCormick as the Moon (Photo: Marigan O’Malley-Posada)
Communication between men and women or the lack of it is at the very heart of Rorschach Theatre’s References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot. Oh I know! There is communication with the moon, some pretty erotic discourse between a scruffy coyote and a feline femme fatale that had the cold rainy evening warming up considerably in Columbia Heights when I attended this show on Saturday. Miscommunication is the case in the beginning for a jeans clad coyote and a kitty dressed to impress, references to being eaten seem erotic for the cat and literal (at first) for our scruffy coyote friend.
Jose Rivera tells the story of Gabriela and Benito – Benito is coming home from a war in the sand and Gabriela is anticipating his arrival. Is he still the man she wants? Is her life what she wants? Like any young lady stuck in a nothing town in the desert with other Army wives, she turns to the most likely subjects for advice, the moon and her pet cat who is busy with a few male problems of her own. Garbriela sleeps in the hot moonlight drenched backyard of her home dreaming vivid scenes of love and loss that are both humorous and heartbreaking. She wants more from life – a better education and a better job. Benito is not home enough to fulfill her dreams; he is happy being a soldier with only nine years to serve before he can retire. He wants Gabby to be a good Army wife and wait out the nine years. Rivera’s play has at its center this struggle between man and woman and the fact that they never really listen to each other.
Martin, a clumsy, young next door neighbor, longs for Gabby and persistently tries to convince her to become his first sexual conquest. He becomes part of her dreams and some of their conversation is downright hilarious. At one point Martin explains that rumor has it that “the grass never grows where a virgin is buried”. What does the Moon say? “People say lots of shit”.
At no time during the play does one really know for sure if Gabriela is really dreaming or awake – never is that an annoyance or over bearing. Director Shirley Serotsky really “gets” this play and her direction shows it. Ms. Serotsky has become in a short time one of the best young directors in the area.
The design team for this production is top notch as well. Rorschach is known for wonderful, intimate sets in the small confines of their church space in Columbia Heights and this one is no exception. The audience is seated on either side of a long expanse of simulated dirt and stone that connect the desert to Benito and Gabby’s kitchen. Overhead the moonlight saturated sky emits a dreamy glow. The sounds of the desert whistle and howl and the moon… well, yes , as we have said… it offers some pretty witty advice, sings all the very cool songs about the moon you can think of and dances pretty damn well.
Scott McCormick as the Moon is a gem. When he croons his version of ‘Moon River’, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ and ‘Blue Moon ‘in his snazzy white suit, you only wish he was smoking a Cuban cigar as well. Gabby (Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey) and Benito (Andrew Price) handle the hard drama skillfully – both completely engulfed in their characters and their depression. The cat and coyote portrayed by Yasmin Tuazon and Danny Gavigan respectively, are the “hot” part of References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, their back and forth sexual game play is some of the best comedic acting I have seen in a while. The Coyote, while trying to swoon the young feline, promises “all of her nine lives will have orgasms”. Last but certainly not least is our amorous young friend Martin, (Cesar A. Guadamuz) who is just a prize. With work at Rorschach and last year’s Lunch and Spinning Into Butter , he has become an engaging young actor.
References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot is a play that makes us laugh about miscommunication between men and women. It is the animals not the humans that give the best relationship advice in this play. Beneath the production’s nifty humor lies some pretty heavy truth. While we all know women and men speak different languages, References persuades that military life bears much of the blame at least in the case of young Gabby and Benito. I think the following lyrics from a song by 10K Maniacs say it best.
So now does your heart pitter pat with a patriotic song
when you see the stripes of Old Glory waving?
Well I knew, I could see, it was all cut and dried to me
there was soldier’s blue blood streaming inside your veins.
There is a world outside of this room and when you meet it promise me
you won’t meet it with your gun taking aim.
I don’t mean to argue, they’ve made a decent boy of you
and I don’t mean to spoil your homecoming my baby brother Jude
and I don’t mean to hurt you by saying this again,
they’re so good at making soldiers but they’re not so good at making men.
(Running time: 2:15 with 1 intermission) References to Salvador Dali Makes Me Hot continues until Sunday, May 13th at The Sanctuary Theatre, Casa del Pueblo Methodist Church, 1459 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC. Thurs thru Sat at 8 pm. Additional shows: 3 pm matinees Saturdays, May 5 & 12 and Sunday, May 13. Tickets: $20. Students and Seniors $12. available online. or call 1-800-494-TIXS
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