Tuesday, December 6, 2016

InnerMission’s “Seven Spots on The Sun” takes no prisoners.

To the victor, go the spoils.

Ah! But the spoils.

Nothing good here.

No cushy political appointments. No money. No land.

Benefits? None!

Glory? Not so much!

Grief? Enough to go around in Zimmerman’s nameless South American location where the ravages of war have left the town, its people and two couples in complete and devastating ruin.

Martín Zimmerman’s bold and highly disturbing in your face  “Seven Spots on the Sun” is now in an excellent staging at InnerMission Productions. It’s all done under the watchful eye of Carla Nell one of the artistic directors at the tiny blackbox (29 or so seats) space in back of the larger Diversionary Theatre. So Shhhh when you pass by the side of the theatre.

“I quickly make up for eighteen months without radio, eighteen months of daily battle with my darkest thoughts. I dance to shake the pain out of every limb to sweat and sweat, till you’ve purged the war from every pore…” The radio. The voice in the radio is announcing the end of the war and amnesty, pardon, absolution to all who committed autocracies during the fighting. 

Bernardo Mazon and Jennifer Paredes
Not so fast my friends. War can be an elixir to some. It’s a way out of a boring, oft times dangerous job. It can be a travel agency for some, taking soldiers to places they never before though of. It can give them a lucrative pension after a short stint fighting. At least that’s what Luis (Bernardo Mazón) thought.

He was tired of working in the mines, making little to nothing for his wife Monica (Jennifer Paredes) and any family they might want in the future.  So, with an advance for enlisting, he bought her a washing machine (so she wouldn’t have to use a scrubbing board to wash the clothes) and off he went. In the beginning was all-good. Time away from each other intensified their sex life. 

Sandra Ruiz and Jorge Rodrigues
In another town close by Moises (Jorge Rodriguez) and his adoring wife Belen (Sandra Ruiz), who is a nurse run the small medical clinic where drugs were getting harder and harder to come by. The clinic doors have been locked since Belen was dragged away by one of the fighters. Moises refuses to see anyone.

Close by in the mission run by the drinking (to avoid making decisions priest) Eugenio (Miguel Gongora, Jr. stands his ground as the tentative priest) thinks that by keeping the doors to the mission locked shut, things will resolve themselves. When a plague hits their little community everything turns upside down. It seems that the children are breaking out in boils and high fever and dying for lack of medical attention.

When the priest approaches Moises the -you what- hits the fan and Moises returns the favor by ignoring the man of the cloth. But things take a turn and the medic actually becomes the healer as he lays hands on the children.

By some miracle the boils disappear and the children live. But when Monica brings her child to be healed, Moises cannot forgive her husband for snatching his wife away, all in his duty for the war effort. It’s then that both men have come to a come to Jesus moment. (No spoilers here).

Zimmerman’s play, along with a strong and committed cast of actors is willing to put it all on the line in this tiny little space. They sing and dance choreographed by Patrick Mayuyu and Robert Malave in spiritual rituals (the town people) that almost dislodge the seriousness of the story about to be told when we first meet up with a raging Moises who takes a hammer to the radio and leaves the stage.

Miguel Gongora, JR. Bernardo Mazon, Jennifer Paredes and Markuz Rodriguez
It is at this time that we meet Monica who dreamily tells us about her husband Luis. He said, “I was his missing ingredient.” Jennifer Paredes gives performance of a lifetime as she moves from young bride to army wife… “Each time his body comes back to me but…it’s like he’s leaving little bits of himself in the field an earlobe here a pinky toe there so when the war ends…I barely have a husband.”

From there, she moves effortlessly to the pleading mother of a feverish child to the helpless wife begging for her child’s life.  The emotional arc she shows is amazing. The chemistry between the two, Paredes and Mazon is noticeably evident.

Mazon’s Luis moves from cocky miner to arrogant soldier to disillusioned civilian who loses everything he dreamed of and more. Sandra Ruiz is a convincing Belen as she too moves from loving wife to concerned accomplice before she is dragged off by the war torn soldier Luis when Eugenio refuses to give her refuge in the mission. She is never seen again; the clinic goes dark and Moises refuses to see patients for over a year.

Jorge Rodriguez is in rare form as the war torn, tormented and degraded medic Moises who is in mourning for his lover, his wife; the one who lured him with the sweet taste of pineapple. His is a world turned upside down first as a gentle healer to one struggling with his loss turned miracle worker turned accuser. All eyes are on his passionate performance, and it pays off. His performance is heartfelt and emotionally wrenching.

Spoils? You name one. War is hell as the saying goes and between Zimmerman, Nell and the Town’s Greek Chorus of four (Markuz, Danielle Levin, Elizabeth Jimenez and Robert Malave) “Seven Spots” leave more than handprints on the sun; it destroys towns, communities and countries. It ravishes good men with good intentions while giving way to dictatorships for, yes, the spoils.

Shaun Tauzon’s set can be a little confusing but the actors make use of every small musical instrument, box, trunk, and corrugated backdrop to be seen. Natalie Cargill designed the lighting and Robert Malave the appropriate costumes.

Elizabeth Jimenez, Jennifer Paredes, Jorge Rodriguez and Danielle Levin
“Seven Spots” is the theatre’s first show of its second season (It’s 90 minutes) and if this level of excellence is indicative of what’s to come, you made a good call by getting out to see it.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through Dec. 10th
Organization: InnerMission Productions
Phone: 619-324-8970
Production Type: War Drama
Where: 4545 Park Blvd.  #101, San Diego, 92116
Ticket Prices: $25.00
Web: innermissionproductions.org
Venue: Diversionary Black Box

Photo: Adriana Zuniga-Williams.

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