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Divine Horsemen – Access Theater, New York

Writer: Paul Calderón

Director: Paul Calderón

Reviewer: Robert Price

Held at gunpoint, Iffy (David Zayas) is a great storyteller. He ridicules the punk kid in the bandana and escapes the episode with perfect comedic timing. He defends his Spanish Harlem candy counter without even pulling out his bat. Benny (Robert Lee Leng) can hardly believe the old man’s account as it’s shown to us, but truth is flexible here: Benny, after all, insists he’ll be pitching in the minor leagues again after a simple operation on his arm. Iffy swears that he used to be somebody in the heyday of his washed-up social club. The truth we can see is Iffy cheats at dominoes and Benny is working as a gigolo for older women. Willie the hitman (Paul Calderón) finally arrives with news of Benny’s outstanding debt, and it’s bad news for Benny. 

Divine Horsemen is a one-location play composed of cascades of quick text. These men spar for position with rapid paragraphs of masculine posturing. It begins with an other-worldly suicide, accompanied by projections of comic book heroes and Latin drumming. Jojo (Jonny Rios) has taken his own life, survived by his mother (his “moms”) and his brother Raffi (David Deblinger). It is something of Jojo’s that catches Benny’s eye when he’s hurting for cash. He enlists Willie and Iffy to help him score the loot. Their plan doesn’t factor in the unpredictable behavior of Raffi, the intellectually disabled brother of the deceased.

The play explores morality among unapologetic men. Their downfall is precipitated by what they perceive as weakness and how they attempt to protect themselves. Zayas paints his strength with vulnerability. Leng’s energy is right but his pace sacrifices a few syllables to his enthusiasm. Calderón slowly sheds his sunglasses and hat to reveal a vibrant range of vocal and physical choices. Deblinger’s Raffi has the exuberance of a proper show-stopper, but captures the poetry of the piece with a striking immediacy. Calderón has realized an authentic and complex piece in a limited setting.

Runs until 27 January 2018 | Image: David Zayas, Jr.

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