The Leo K. wraps up its short (2-play) season with this strange, vibrant, enthralling look at a deliciously fucked-up family on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
Following her mother’s death, Marina (Onahouna Rodriguez) returns for an open-ended visit to the small town of Salobreña to reunite with her estranged artist father Emiliano (Tom Ramirez). Living with him is a blunt, plain-spoken older woman named Paquita (wonderful Karmin Murcelo) and sexy young Moroccan Karim (sultry Paul Nicholas).
As Marina finds herself increasingly drawn to Karim, she learns that he and Paquita are husband and wife… but only for purposes of Karim’s citizenship. Paquita and daddy Emiliano are constant companions and occasional lovers. So where does Karim really fit into it all?
Observing and explaining all the revelatory twists and turns (it could be soap-opera fodder if not for all the insightful truths and keen observations) is the ghost of real-life 20th-century poet and playwright Federico García Lorca (Jonathan Nichols), who chats with Emiliano as he paints, doling out sage advice and profound scrutiny. (In one delightfully weird scene, said scrutiny is even doled via a puppet. Yay.) George Clooney lookalike Nichols has a bizarre, Rod Serling-esque presence … though my theatre companion suggests he’s more like Tony Shaloub in the USA network show Monk. (I’ll have to take his word on that.) Either way, every scene with Federico is all the more captivating because of his droll presence.
Another cast shout-out to Nicholas, whose Karim scintillates with easy charm and electric eroticism. (An ecstasy-laced scene in which Marina kisses a different part of his body as he names the epitaphs of Allah is muy caliente.) And Murcelo, a regular on Mexican TV serials, is perfectly suited to the words and the "sadly happy" character she inhabits as Paquita; her performance is simply unforgettable.
But the real star here is brilliant playwright Nilo Cruz. This is the world-premiere production of his newest play, and his work deserves to be read and performed and witnessed and contemplated. For Seattleites, it appears that the Rep is a great place to start; 2003’s prizewinning Anna in the Tropics will be next autumn’s season opener. Don’t miss it, and don’t miss the beauty of this Father.