by Richard Hinojosa · August 25, 2015
Alex Moreno, Bettina Hoffmann, Haydn Diaz | Daniel Schorr
We often go to great lengths to fill the empty spaces in our lives. We drink too much, use the wrong drugs, cling to bad relationships or find excuses to go to the doctor all in order to fill a void. Martin Balmaceda and RHA Theatre tackle this compulsion with a high degree of style and intelligence in this intriguing piece of devised theatre.
We open on a custodian dancing with his broom and then cut to a short video where an ornithologist is giving a lecture on the anatomy of a wing and from there we abruptly cut to two men searching for something with flashlights in the dark. Thus begins Act One: The Find, in which the two men, Pretty and Daisy, search for something that has fallen from the sky. They stumble upon an unmoving lump of an angel who is for some reason completely nonverbal. Pretty and Daisy decide to take the angel home and care for it like a pet. Their care leads to illness and the Second Act: The Cure, in which they take the angel to the doctor. From there things go from bad to worse and they lose their beloved pet angel to the world. The final act is the embodiment of their shame and pain as they try to fill the void left by their loss. They begin using drugs, placing blame on each other and they try to justify their actions as they seek answers and stability in their lives.
Balmaceda wrote the script in collaboration with the ensemble. The compelling story unfolds in dribs and drabs as the dialogue tends to rely on surreal poetry and complex language. There are moments of lucidity that drive the plot forward and convey the volumes of subtext and emotion that fill this captivating play. The script explores love and obsession in a truly unique and entrancing manner. As director, Balmaceda gives us a vision of a world where love is cruel and use is abuse. The set is an empty space and the costumes simple and stylized such as the large piece of clear plastic that represents the angel’s wings. Pretty and Daisy appear to be a couple, always calling each other terms of endearment, and yet they story implies that they are not sexual. Their relationship is as complex as the language and themes making the audience complicit in the search for answers – the cure for the void.
The ensemble does an amazing job with a challenging script. Alex J Moreno and Haydn Diaz play Pretty and Daisy respectively, with powerful chemistry flowing between them. Moreno’s Pretty is charming and innocent while Diaz’s Daisy is cool and demanding. They never stop reaching for a high plane while supporting each other’s every move. Gabriel Garcia plays the angel with incredible commitment to a dazed, painful existence. Bettina Hoffmann rounds out the ensemble with a solid portrayal of a doctor obsessed with the cure.
Curing the Void is a fascinating trip through the jealousy and obsession. The play reminds us that love for those who have always been there to support us is not a shout in the void. It is a whisper to a heart already full.