Drawn and Quartered
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
June 3, 2011
We may paint over our past with a fresh coat of Indian Sunset Red but that layer of memories doesn’t go away it is merely covered up. All those stains and scuffs remain deep inside us and influence our thoughts and actions. Love, above all else, is a stain that cannot be painted over with any amount of paint. Playwright Maggie Bofill eloquently addresses the stain of love in this touching play about a couple struggling to make sense of their history and each other.
For four years Michael and Anna shared a life and an apartment. Six months earlier Michael walked out on Anna after a fight and never returned. Anna, now ready to sell the apartment, hears that Michael is down and out and decides to help him by offering to pay him to paint their old apartment. She gets a lot more than she bargained for when she comes to inspect his work. Their reunion is loaded with questions and confusion as well as passion and anger. What is left to recover from their past? Do they really know each other? Did they ever? Most of all, do they still love each other?
Bofill’s script is lyrical and metaphorical. It’s packed with moments of profound beauty and honesty. I was particularly struck by Bofill’s balance of eloquence and sincerity. She cuts straight to the heart of the matter and never shies away from the inner turmoil and uncertainty that love brings out in us. I found myself thinking about my own relationships and breakups long after I left the theater.
Lou Moreno does an amazing job directing a strong cast. Moreno sets a gripping tone right at the top of the show and never lets go. The push and pull of these two passionate characters plays out with extraordinary attention to detail of gesture and subtext. Maria Cristina Fuste’s light design contributes a lot to setting the twisting and turning moods. The piece is also scored tenderly and precisely by live conga player Peter Barr.
Liza Fernandez is wonderful as the strong and vibrant Anna. She turns her search for a peace offering inward, making it seem as if she is finding her answers somewhere deep inside herself. Jose Joaquin Perez does a fantastic job with Michael. He also internalizes his confusion so much that at times I felt confused by his reactions. These characters have a lot to figure out about themselves and each other and that can be difficult to play, but Fernandez and Perez are on top of it. They also have great chemistry. I could feel the heat radiated by their passion from the third row.
Drawn and Quartered is a captivating production. The acting is powerful and provocative. The direction pushes the action to the breaking point and the writing is beautiful. There are flights of language that soar in the imagination and incite solidarity with the characters. With the exception of the very end, the production is very grounded. It’s the honesty and callous reality that stuck with me. This show is tight and relatively concise at only 50 minutes long. The producing company, INTAR, has once again shown that they provide the New York theater community with thought-provoking and well produced new plays. Don’t miss this one.