Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Review of The Displaced at Haven Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Displaced. It was by Isaac Gomez, and it was directed by Jo Cattell. It is about a woman named Marisa (Karen Rodriguez) and her boyfriend Lev (Rashaad Hall) and they were moving in together for the first time. They didn't feel completely alone when they were in their new place. Paintings kept falling, faucets kept turning on at random moments, books kept flying. But the problems in the apartment uncover problems in their relationship and reveal the differences in privilege between the previous tenants and the new ones. I think it is really interesting how they put together romantic comedy, horror, and relationship drama. It was a very suspenseful, thought-provoking, heartwarming and heartbreaking show. I think this was a really awesome show. It was cool to watch and had a good and enveloping story.

This production was very good at building suspense. They had a really unpredictable lighting system in their house (lighting design by Erik S. Barry) that kept flickering and going out, so it was really suspenseful whenever they were in the dark. I think the visual effects (rigging by Nosewind Productions, designed by Rachel Flesher with assistant Zack Payne, and carried out by assistant stage managers Mitchell J. Ward, Rukaya Ilah, and Justine B. Palmisano) in this show were really good at keeping you on your toes. There were a lot of moments where Marisa and Lev would just be having a conversation and something supernatural would happen and they would try to find an explanation for it that didn't involve dead peoples' spirits haunting them. Also the Alexa kept playing the music the previous tenants had listened to and made it kind of distorted (sound design by Sarah D. Espinoza), and that was really creepy because an Alexa is something you feel like you have control over. It's a robot that does your bidding, so it is especially scary when it doesn't do something you've asked it to do or won't turn off or turns on at random moments.

I think it was interesting how throughout the show Marisa and Lev changed how they would protect each other. Their relationship would go on upswings and downswings, which made it more suspenseful to see who would be mad at who and who wouldn't want to help the other in the next moment of panic in response to something strange happening. The visual effects end up provoking a lot of the emotional effects on the audience and the couple. Like when the couple is kissing and a book flies out from the bookshelf and hits Marisa, the romance is immediately deactivated. It seems at points that this invisible power is so in charge of their actions and their happiness. It seems like it could be a metaphor for the outside influences that affect relationships, which is really interesting to watch and learn about. There was one section of the show where somebody knocked on the door and you could see Marisa and Lev were terrified. Also, when the knocking got louder, Marisa put on her scary big man voice. It is funny, but it is also sad that she thinks she has to put on this big man voice to make people go away.

I really liked the way the dialogue was phrased and the genuineness of the couple's relationship. A lot of times in horror movies or plays the dialogue is elevated to fit the mood of the play or movie. But I think it is a lot more scary and suspenseful when everyone is a lot more chill than they should be given the circumstances. Like when the paintings fall down, they laugh about it, and the first time the light burns out they don't freak out about it. But that just makes you more nervous for them because they are clearly not as worried as you think they should be. The dialogue was also very witty and they seem to enjoy spending time together and making each other laugh, which makes the audience even more invested in the relationship. Also because you are in their home and they don't think anyone else is around, you get to see them act like themselves and act like goofballs, like when they played tickle monster with a bubble wrap cape. It made me love their characters more and it made me want their relationship to really work out.

People who would like this show are people who like horror romcoms, suspense, and bubble wrap tickle monsters. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It closes this weekend, so go and get your tickets while you still can. I loved it!

Photos: Austin D. Oie

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