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Jim Knable's trying, overlong play concerns a woman who finds a Spanish conquistador on her living room couch. logo
Annabella Sciorra and Michael Aronov in Spain
(© Joan Marcus)
It's one thing to write a trying, overlong play. It's quite another to impugn an entire country in the writing of it. But that's what Jim Knable has done with the two-act dramatic comedy he baldly calls Spain. If his play with comic overtones were to stick around for very long, he might receive a cease-and-desist call from the Spanish Tourist Board. But considering the unlikelihood of a long run, Knable should have no worries about seeing his face on "Wanted" posters in Madrid and Barcelona.

For the record, Spain concerns Barbara (Annabella Sciorra), whose husband John (Erik Jensen) has left her for what she repeatedly calls a "slut with a boob job." In despair and having dreamed for years of vacationing in sunny Spain, she one day spots on her living room couch a conquistador in semi-shining armor (muscular and bearded Michael Aronov). Not her type initially, he slowly seduces her with talk of duende, which is more or less Spanish for chutzpah.

Barbara -- who may be depressed but is nobody's fool -- does realize he's a palpable figment of her imagination. Nonetheless, she's so empowered by the Don Quixote-ish intruder that when John comes back to her with sad tales of being dumped by the surgically altered Yolanda, she runs the contrite philanderer through with the Conquistador's sword. This rash and bloody act gets her in Dutch with the law and with a lawyer (Lisa Kron in one of many roles) and also disturbs an office co-worker whom Knable calls Diversions (Veanne Cox). Also popping out of a large mirror that set designer Beowulf Boritt places upstage center is a Mayan character known as Ancient (Kron again, but this time in costumer Jenny Mannis' plumed headdress and feathered cape).

It's the insistent Ancient who tells Barbara that in her torpor she's "acting out a Freudian fantasy based on a Jungian nightmare served to you by an Andalusian Mayan Soul Prophet by way of a delusionary fragment of a repressed childhood primal collective unconscious memory." The line, which reaps one of the play's precious few laughs, pretty much says it all in the way of explanation for a piece that eventually has Barbara traveling to an imagined Spain with the Conquistador. By this time, though, he's admitted merely to being a peasant called Pepe.

Had enough plot description of a play intended to scrutinize sympathetically a woman coming to psychological terms with a major romantic jolt in her life? The only thing left to think about in relation to this enterprise directed by Jeremy Dobrish -- whose penchant for whimsy goes too far this time -- is the mind-set of the cast. It's unfair to criticize actors for taking jobs when their incomes are often precarious, but it may be fair to wonder how such work affects their psyches. This bunch is doing their collective damnedest, but they can't quite hide knowing they're in a spoiled paella.

Sciorra, usually as sexy as a centerfold, has to wear baggy pants and glasses to look even partially frumpy, but anyone who saw her on The Sopranos as Tony Soprano's car-dealer girlfriend won't buy the change. Cox may have taken the role because she eventually gets to put on a flamenco outfit and twirl like a born ballerina. Tony-nominated Kron (Well), Aronov, and Jensen pitch in as well for little reward. All five have shown themselves off to better effect in the past and can be counted on to do the same in the future -- the near future, it's to be hoped.

Toward the long-stalled end of Spain, Barbara -- coming to a realization about herself that the audience knew she would -- implores, "Can I just be alone? Please?" Glad to oblige.

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