The play centers on two couples and a priest in the poor, perhaps Mexican town of San Isidro.
Plastic shower curtains cut into long slanted rectangular pieces and hung on an onstage rod may remind you of chimes or even organ pipes, but sexual passion is about the only remotely harmonious aspect of Martín Zimmerman’s “Seven Spots On The Sun.”
Innermission Productions opens its second full season with this bleak but affecting meditation on war and other incivilities, which plays through Dec. at Diversionary Theatre’s Black Box.
The play centers on two couples and a priest in the poor, perhaps Mexican town of San Isidro where the federal government has declared a civil war for unclear reasons.
Four other actors (Markuz Rodriguez, Elizabeth Jimeniz, Danielle Levin and Robert Malave) play multiple roles as “Town.”
The script allows, indeed encourages imaginative sounds and movements that are consistently intriguing if not always clear.
For instance, the opening uses the Town characters as something I interpreted as a rendering of prehistory, with birds and various animals and their attendant sounds. There are other intermittent sounds – pounding, clapping, a drum, a tambourine and various other sound effects made by the Town group.
But this story takes place in present time, where laundress Mónica (Jennifer Paredes) is surprised by her miner husband Luis’ early return from work.
Luis (Bernardo Mazón) is excited and has brought a major gift – a washing machine. He doesn’t get the response he wants, because his practical wife is fearful that (1) he’s lost his job and/or (2) the machine is stolen.
But no, Luis has enlisted in the army and promises a good career with a “fat pension, fatter than your aunt Nilda’s thighs.”
But though war may be a good employment choice for those with otherwise limited prospects, it respects no one, bringing out if not demanding the worst in people. After a few years in combat, Luis has become a person Mónica barely recognizes.
Meanwhile, physician Moisés (Jorge Rodriguez), who works with his nurse wife Belén, struggles to get enough medicine to keep his clinic going.
This requires driving through enemy territory, so Moisés takes local priest Eugenio (Miguel Gongora, Jr.) along for moral support – and for his skills of persuasion. And, of course, they bribe people at every checkpoint.
But three years into the war, physician Moisés quits treating patients after a personal war-inspired tragedy.
When local children begin dying of a strange disease that manifests in large boils and priest Eugenio (who has shown himself cowardly and impotent throughout) asks Moisés to return to his clinic, even stranger things happen.
Director Carla Nell’s fine cast and excellent direction keep the action moving and the tension high. Especially good are Jorge Rodriguez’s tortured Moisés and Jennifer Paredes’ Mónica, whose expressive face allows us tells all as she tries to connect the Luis she fell in love with and the man who’s come back to her.
“Seven Spots On The Sun” is puzzling, with its quick jumps in time and unusual use of sounds and movements (the latter choreographed by Patrick Mayuyu and Robert Malave), but the cast makes sure that we will not leave without witnessing the ravages of war and the grim fact that nothing has been solved. This is challenging theater, and definitely worth seeing.
Innermission Productions’ “Seven Spots On The Sun” plays through December 10, 2016 at Diversionary Black Box, 4545 Park Boulevard.
Dec. 3, 8, 9 and 10 at 7:30 pm
Tickets: (619) 324-8970 or innermissionproductions.org