Identity crises

Who Am I

By Rodney E. Reyes
Directed by Rodney E. Reyes and Lilian Ribeiro
Midtown International Theatre Festival/Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex Stage II
312 West 36th St. (212/279-4200;;
Equity showcase (closes Aug. 2)
Review by Elias Stimac

The lack of punctuation in the title of Rodney E. Reyes's dramatically charged Who Am I is telling -- there is no question mark, which makes it a statement. And the play centers on four people who indeed succeed in finding out who they are in the course of the 80-minute running time. Hopefully, audience members will also discover something about themselves in the diverse situations presented onstage.

Marv (Jonathan Calindas) is a comic book writer, conversing with a young girl, May (Daniela Tedesco). Little does she realize that she is actually his pen-and-paper creation, a two-dimensional portrayal of something missing in his life.

A guy (Dennis K. Philbert) faces off opposite a girl (Nicole Watson) through a wooden frame -- a frame that holds an imaginary mirror, which means the one is an inner reflection of the other.

A young woman (Margarita Ventura) is confronted by an even younger female (Jennifer Querijero) who ultimately claims to be her mother -- a mother who abandoned her a long time ago.

A strung-out junkie (Patrick Annelli) is met by what appears to be a man in his mid-20s (Mario Corrales) -- but who in reality just happens to be God.

All four of these conflicts are taut with tension, resolved only after a vocal or physical confrontation between the two participants. Each of Reyes's scenarios also wisely features one or more twists or surprises, keeping viewers on their toes. Occasionally the script veers into moments of ambiguity or repetition, but for the most part its course is direct and straightforward. His direction with Lillian Ribeiro nicely balancedthe heated conflicts with more intimate scenes of interaction.

The actors made up a close ensemble, consistently involved and intriguing, and each pair of performers worked well together. Annelli in particular threw himself into the role of the trippin' addict who is instantly sobered up when he literally sees God. Special kudos to the cast for being able to keep their concentration while standing at arm's length from the front row of the audience.

Technical efforts by lighting designer Corrales and set designer Ribeiro made the most of the black box setting.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Elias Stimac