References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot
Local Arts Reviews
Reviewed by Barry Pineo, Fri., Oct. 26, 2001
References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot: All I Have to Do Is DreamBlue Theater, through November 4
Running Time: 1 hr, 30 min
Gabriella is a dreamer. In her dreams, the Moon is a man, a big man, round (of course), bald and bearded, shimmering with reflected light, and who we find, as we enter the Blue Theatre, standing atop Gabriella's refrigerator. In her dreams, Gabriella's cat talks with a coyote, flirts with him as she rebuffs his attempts to lure her out-of-doors, where he unquestionably will do unspeakable things to her. And in her dreams, her husband, Benito, returns home from a war exercise to find that the woman he thought he knew has become someone else entirely.
Like some of the work by that fella Shakespeare to whom playwright José Rivera frequently refers, References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot is a magical love story in which nature reflects human relationships, and this Refraction Arts Project production is beautiful to look at, most particularly for Cameron Anderson's scenic design. The play is set in Barstow, California, and Anderson's set reflects the desert about as well as could be hoped for. A large pit of fine sand is backed by slats of wood that evoke nothing so much as the side of a house. Painted on these boards are the varied and rich colors of a sunrise. Using sundry other set pieces, including the aforementioned refrigerator, a raised chair, a sleeping bag, a telescope, and a footlocker, Anderson manages to convey place simply and with great variety.
Four of the performances stand out, one in particular: Lowell Bartholomee's as the Moon. He gives the impression, despite a surprising soft-spokenness, of a wisdom and world-weariness that are engaging. Mical Trejo's 14-year-old Martin is, in one sense, a walking erection, and in another a naive innocent seduced by the strange values of the modern world. Jessica Hedrick's black cat is all slink and purr, managing to meow without every actually uttering the sound. Enrique Bravo's Benito is a particularly striking portrait of a young man, an army sergeant trying to do a job and one who made a horrible mistake during the Gulf War and is attempting to live with it.
One thing about the production consistently distracted me. Monika Bustamante plays Gabriella, and while she is an obviously talented performer, something she does in this role does not work. Director Jeff Griffin has Bustamante deliver the role on one vocal level in terms of tempo, rhythm, and often volume. Because of this, Gabriella lacks color, and the point of what she's saying, and thus the story itself, is too often lost, and just fades away ....