By Holli Harms and David Walters
As we all know about life, nothing is ever just one thing. We bring our myriad and complicated histories into every encounter we have. Whether it’s our personal relationships, the people we see in line at the store, or the stranger we’re with whom we are yet to interact as we sit on a park bench. We all have our personal historical views of the world that inform who we are, how we see the world around us, and how we deal with all these other people.
Rey’s uncle lost everything in his wallet, and more, to a chess hustler, Cash (Shawn Randall), in Washington Square Park and Rey (José Joaquin Pérez) has come to seek revenge by beating Cash at his own game because, “People who hurt people deserve to be hurt back.”
As these two play out their feints on the chess board, they’re jeered and cheered by other hustlers and aficionados: an angry bible-quoting Russian named John (Gardiner Comfort), Jerome (David Anzuelo), a proud Cherokee, and 92 aka Adam Kirchbaum (Ed Setrakian), a chess child prodigy and Holocaust survivor who has vowed never to play chess again.
What gets played out during the course of this production is not only several riveting games of speed chess, but the burdens each character has carried through life for wrong’s committed. This game and its outcome becomes a fight for a son’s love, deserved retribution for family genocide, and an exchange for a hand. The set, a lovely realistic park setting with working water fountain designed by Raul Abrego, gives the director (Lou Moreno) and actors ample opportunities to take full advantage of the intimate Intar space.
Fish Men is a thinking person’s play. It has direct correlation to what is happening in our world today: vengeance, worldwide genocide, religious and government damnation and retribution, the Theory of Relativity clearly explained in two sentences, the concept of the “defeat of victory,” but especially our inhumanity toward one another. If you listen here, you will be challenged. Challenged and brought to a modicum of understanding. An understanding of, despite all the horrors we face that bring us to the precipice, we still innately have a desire to do good in the world.
Life is chess and chess is life, at least here on the Intar stage it is.
With: David Anzuelo (Intimacy, Aunt Dan & Lemon – New Group), Gardiner Comfort (The Elephant in Every Room I Enter- La Mama), José Joaquín Perez (Drama Desk Award nomination – My Manana Comes), Shawn Randall (founder, Symphonics Live), and Ed Setrakian (Salome with Al Pacino, Saint Joan with Lynn Redgrave).
Scenic Design: Raul Abrego, Lighting Design: Christopher Cancel-Pumales, Sound Design: Jesse Mandapat, Costume Design: Meghan E. Healey, Stage Managers: Fran Acune-Almiron, Alejandra Maldonado
INTAR Theatre ( Lou Moreno, Artistic Director/John McCormack, Executive Director) 500 W 52nd Street at 10th avenue, Floor 4 New York 10019 Tickets: $25. Through March 18th. Running Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes with intermission.