We’re giving our resident Geek Gal a new title: Theater Diva! Follow Caroline Cao as she takes in pretty much every play on the Great White Way.
A Puerto-Rican junkie (Johnny Rivera), his cousin (Gus Scharr), and his ex-Black Panther drug dealer (Russell Jordan) gather in the basement of an abandoned Bronx hotel. They’re after an alleged buried treasure. How do they “know” about the treasure? The junkie received this tip from the Yiddish-speaking spirit (Howard Pinhasik) of his murder victim. Then, the three guys face the arrival of a vagabond (Renoly Santiago, with restless physicality), who appears to be a demon of sorts, sprinkling torments and summoning specters (such as one played by Gabrielle Lee). Yep, that’s the eerie plot of the new play Ominous Men, a play filled with the living… and those beyond the grave.
When you enter, set designer Jennifer Varbalow’s shanty and abandoned space set the mood right off the bat. Desi Moreno-Penson’s script is unapologetically dank and dreary, and the past of misogyny and toxic masculinity begins to froth to the surface and manifest in the ugliest retributions.
Director Lorca Peress makes use of spatially and sometimes plant background ghosts before they emerge. The projections and light ripple through for haunting effect as if the players do not know they are swept into waves.
The ending is a grotesque-for-grotesque brand of conclusion, concerned with looking creepy rather than capping off its message. Still, it is loud and clear about colonialism, trauma and toxic masculinity.
Ominous Men, playing through Nov. 3 at MultiStages.
photo credit: MultiStages