The Outside Man
nytheatre.com review by Joe Beaudin
August 16, 2007
What happens when you don't leave your apartment for 25 years, and your only real contact with the outside world is a small window, a telephone, and an overbearing older sister? Dark secrets go hidden under the rug, until someone unexpected helps to uncover them.
The Outside Man, a play written and directed by Robert Dominguez, tells the story of Esteban Marquez (played by Carlos Molina), a 50-year-old landlord who has not left the Queens apartment building he owns since the death of his wife. He shares his apartment with his older sister, Elsa, played gracefully by Imma Heredia. Their lives are turned upside down when a new young female tenant named Angelica moves in and steals the heart of Esteban. Angelica (played by Halley Bondy) is mysterious and noticeably flirty with Esteban when they first meet, and a friendly encounter quickly evolves into a serious relationship.
Elsa is immediately jealous of Angelica, and is suspicious of her intentions. This creates comical friction between the siblings, accurately dubbed by Angelica as the "Spanish Donnie and Marie Act," and is the origin of conflict in the story. Esteban and Elsa both confide in a telephone psychic named Raoul (played by Patrick Stephenson) who guides them through this new roadblock in their relationship. By the end, secrets are revealed, and each character unveils a hidden side.
Dominguez's story is very entertaining and well-written. I saw it as this dark soap opera laced with Macbethian themes of courage and fate throughout which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, I think the execution is lacking, particularly in the way the actors interact with each other. Moments are sort of looked over and rushed, and I wanted the actors to experience them more. Specifically, there is a moment where Angelica tries to persuade Esteban to go outside with her. What could have been a rich interaction between them was instead passed over and not lived thoroughly enough.
Heredia's performance of the domineering and quipping Elsa was a standout for me. She is able to handle this dynamic role of comical and dark proportions with ease, and she is a pleasure to watch. Also, I thought the stark lighting design provided a fitting atmosphere to the play's themes and dark twists. The set design is equally fitting, specifically the placing of the lone window upstage, which caught my attention throughout.
This production could be electrifying, if there was just a little more electricity between actors in the ensemble. The story is juicy, and with a little more "juice" I think this could be a more complete piece of theatre.