Isaac Gomez’s exciting new thriller mixes bumps in the night with poignant social commentary, similar to Jordan Peele’s Get Out. In its world premiere, produced by Haven Theatre and directed by Jo Cattell, the one-act two-hander features charismatic performances by Karen Rodriguez and Rashaad Hall. They play Marisa and Lev, a young couple with a visibly strained relationship marred by the distance created by device addiction, mistrust, and some deep-seated hurt around the challenges of an interracial relationship. They hope their new apartment in Pilsen will get them “running toward each other instead of away,” as Marisa puts it, but their spats only intensify in the mess of moving and the subsequent discovery that their space may have a mind of its own.
The discovery of an old photo album spurs conversation around the previous tenants, a Latino family forced out as a consequence of gentrification, and from there the tension builds in the form of both superficial arguments and supernatural happenings. It soon becomes clear Marisa has more familiarity with magic and ofrendas (ritual objects and offerings) than she is letting on, and her refrain of “things are only real if you let them be real” undergoes subtle changes of meaning as the story races toward a terrifying conclusion.
Rodriguez is spellbinding as Marisa, mixing humor and emotion as her internal psyche and external circumstances begin to unravel. Arnel Sancianco’s scenic design provides a spooky backdrop, including an upstage, closed door that’s positively frightening. v