A wealthy woman invites two strangers to join her in a strange feast commemorating the death of her parents. Mayannah has done this every year but her dark purpose remains unclear. All that will change tonight when two damaged souls find their way to her table.
“Brainpeople” by José Rivera opens at the Vortex Theatre on Thursday, May 18. The play runs through June 4.
“Brainpeople” takes place in a not-so-distant future with the sounds of a war-torn Los Angeles scorching the air. Tensions rise, true colors are revealed and the main course is not the only thing with claws.
“There’s talk of a stolen election, riots in the streets and a police state,” said director Miguel Martinez.
“An eccentric woman has invited two other women up to her apartment in LA. If they finish the meal, they get $100,000.”
The play explores the psychological nature of trauma, he added.
“It’s kind of in the Gatsby range of people trying to return to the place where everything was right,” Martinez said. “And it never works.”
Nervous, garrulous, wall-flowerish Ani desperately wants to leave the country. Rivera scatters throughout the play suggestions that the U.S. is now a violent police state, with curfews, canceled free elections and “arrest of dissidents” the new order of the day.
Blowzy, aging-streetwalker-attired Rosemary seems to be there because she’s hungry. Their hostess has promised “the meal of your lives” and prepared it all by herself, dismissing personal staff and “soldiers” for the night.
Orphaned by rich parents in her childhood, hostess Mayannah has by necessity had her guests delivered via armored limo. She assures the visitors they’re safe because “Wealth is still respected in this city,” though police sirens and other unsettling sounds frequently penetrate her privileged sanctuary.
Martinez has previously directed Rivera’s play “References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot.”
“I’m Puerto Rican, he’s Puerto Rican, and I love that magical realism,” Martinez said. “I’ve just followed his career. His scripts keep coming back to haunt me.”
“Brainpeople” stars Kim Nieve Larrichio as Mayannah, Stephanie Grilo as Ani, and Christy Lopez as Rosemary.