Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
ACTS OF MERCY: passion play
By MICHAEL JOHN GARCÉS
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, NYC
February 8 through March 19, 2006
Directed by GIA FORAKIS
Scenic Design ROBIN VEST
Costume Design ELIZABETH HOPE CLANCY
Sound Design DANIEL BAKER
Original Music MATTHEW SUTTOR & THE BROKEN CHORD COLLECTIVE
Fight Director RICK SORDELET
Production Stage Manager ANNE MICHELSON
Press Representation OPR/ORIGLIO PUBLIC RELATIONS
Veronica Cruz – Arabella
José Febus – Nestor
Jenny Maguire – Kathleen
Bryant Mason – Jaime
Andrés Munar – Eladio
Ivan Quintanilla – Ricky
Tommy Schrider – TJ
ACTS OF MERCY is a brutal examination of a family on the verge of losing its patriarch. Full of anger, rage and a lot of unfinished business, this play ranges from disquieting to downright unpleasant to watch.
The focal point of everything in ACTS OF MERCY is Nestor. Near death, he never leaves his sickbed, but his past deeds resonate in the words and actions of those around him. Two wives have predeceased him. His sons, Jaime, Eladio and TJ, have varying levels of hatred for him, and are not above referring to their own mothers as whores. Family friend Arabella has a masochistic streak that may stem from a childhood incident involving Nestor. She also has a sexual relationship with each of the brothers and refers to herself as a whore. There is a cousin, Ricky, who is not immune from the darkness. His birthday celebration at a strip club degenerates into a night filled with taunts, goading and physical violence. Even a seemingly upbeat and carefree exotic dancer (Kathleen) is reduced to fear and tears after an encounter with Eladio. Clearly, this is not a group of people that are any fun to spend time with. Watching the action unfold, the only excuse for them spending time with one another is that they simply do not know any better. Forget mercy. Misery loves company.
Dramatically, ACTS OF MERCY has an unrelenting yet consistent style. The look, the feel, and even the people seem authentic as defined by the parameters of this play, and in the end, that says a lot. The actors work hard to keep up with the demands of both the pace and the passion, and they are given little downtime, as nearly every scene runs a bit too long. I do not doubt the characters’ tendency to be longwinded and overstate their emotions repeatedly. Each scene touches on a combination of feelings of unhappiness, unresolved issues, self-loathing, and so forth. So, the scenes themselves could have been trimmed without anything vital to the plot being lost.
ACTS OF MERCY can be a brutal experience, and is definitely a play that will not be for everyone. There is graphic language and a lengthy, nude "sex" scene. It is what it is, unapologetically.
- Kessa De Santis -