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THEATER REVIEW Desire in a Tinier House
by Mary Shen Barnidge
2019-06-07

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Playwright: Ryan Oliveira

At: Pride Films and Plays at Pride Arts Broadway, 4139 N. Broadway. Tickets: PrideFilmsAndPlays.com;. 866-811-4111; $30-$40. Runs through: June 29

It's love at first sight, eyes meeting—not across a crowded room, but through a car window. The irregularity of Carlos ( the man inside ) occupying the front seat with the ex-boyfriend of Trevin ( the man outside ) does nothing to obstruct the former's capitulation to the latter's lustful entreaty.

As time passes ( to ascertain how much, or how quickly, you will have to read the script ), Carlos and Trevin exchange personal information in addition to body fluids and flirtatious banter. We hear how Brazilian-American Carlos longs to quit his teaching job at a stuffy parochial secondary school to take up the study of medicine, and how an ethical crisis led Argentine-American Trevin to abandon a lucrative career inventing smartphone apps to make his living designing novelty underwear.

The progress of their relationship gradually takes them from Colorado and Trevin's spartan encampment in the titular environmentally chic dwelling ( or perhaps a trailer—see previous note about the script ), to the wine counties of New York, and from there, to the promise of prosperity in California. On the eve of their departure, though, unnamed terrorists attack the United States, bombing its major cities and plunging the nation into dystopian chaos. It doesn't get better for the lovers following intermission, either.

When your author admits to finding his inspiration at a workshop devoted to the legacy of Latinx playwright Maria Irene Fornes, as Ryan Oliveira has, you don't arrive expecting coherent linear narration. Indeed, the "tinier house" might well be merely a metaphor for the obsessive insularity of romantic passion. The more likely aesthetic principle propelling Oliveira's priapic fantasies is the popular theme, previously exalted in hankie-wringers like Bent and Kiss of the Spider Woman, of gay male love enduring under adverse circumstances—post-apocalyptic nuclear winter, for example.

Since the operatic scope offered by poetry or cinema can easily grow squirmy when presented in the intimate quarters of storefront theater, director Topher Leon wisely opts to shroud Rolando Serrano and Carlos Wagener-Sobrerero ( who both pass a large part of the play wearing only their undies ) in shadow-screen silhouette or expressionistic symbolism when full nudity is mandated.

Scenic artist Alex Casillas, sound sculptor Isaac Mendel and violence/intimacy instructor Gaby Labotka likewise ensure that the visual and aural flow remains smooth and non-disruptive throughout—expertise all the more commendable in light of the lost rehearsal time arising from the installation of a new floor in the Pride Arts Broadway's ballroom studio after sustaining flood damage during this sodden spring.


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