May 28—Lonely army wife Gabriela dives into a moonlit fantasy world during her husband's prolonged absences, imagining the mating rituals between a coyote and a cat.
The moon is an aging, violin-playing dandy wearing a Panama hat.
José Rivera's surreal romance "References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot" opens at the Vortex Theatre on Friday, June 3. The play runs on weekends through June 19.
Gabriela's husband Benito has just returned to their home in the desert of Barstow, California after serving in the Gulf War.
"He comes back and she feels disconnected," director Miguel Martinez said.
Gabriela doesn't like Benito's job; they're being shipped off to Germany next. He doesn't like the way she keeps house. There's nothing but cat food in the cupboards since the cat, after debating the coyote, left home.
"It seems more surreal than it actually is," Martinez said. "It was written about 20 years ago. It's surrealism with a realism center."
As love, lust and longing collide, the play celebrates the confusion that grows out of trying to understand not only the one you love, but yourself as well.
Dalí's "Two Pieces of Bread Expressing the Sentiment of Love" hangs in the couple's bedroom.
"I've been obsessed with José Rivera since I read his play 'Marisol,' " Martinez said. "I've been in three of his plays in the past" at the Vortex.
The theater has also produced Rivera's "Each Day Dies with Sleep" and "Sonnets for an Old Century."
"I found 'Marisol' after I'd fallen in love with Gabriel García Márquez," Martinez continued. "It was the first time I saw that magical realism in the theater. I followed everything I could about him."
Rivera earned a 2005 Oscar nomination for screenwriting "The Motorcycle Diaries," directed by Walter Salles. The movie is based on Che Guevara's diary about how a motorcycle trip changed his life.
Benito and Gabriela also evoke the specific between Latino communities and the U.S. Army. His echoes of PTSD seem achingly relevant today.
The play asks the central questions: Can you live with someone who's lost what you fell in love with? Can you expect someone to stay as what you know when you've changed, too?
"References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot" stars Marcus Ivey ("The Heart is a Lonely Hunter") as Benito and Kim Gleason (artistic director of Two Words theater) as Gabriela.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: "References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot" by José Rivera
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 3-4; 2 p.m. Sunday, June 5; weekends through June 19.
WHERE: Vortex Theatre, 2900 Carlisle Blvd. NE
HOW MUCH: $24; $19 students and SAG/AFTRA members, at vortexabq.org, 505-247-8600.