A personable young woman whose husband left her for “a slut with a boob job” finds a 16th century conquistador — with armor and blood-stained sword — on her living room couch, lovingly examining his reflection in his golden helmet. Barbara has a best friend named Diversion and is frequently visited by a primitive goddess who appears in various contemporary guises. “Spain” is wild and quirky, and, while things don’t quite add up in the end, playwright Jim Knable delivers an entertaining and unpredictable comedy.
Play is at one point described as “a Freudian fantasy based on a Jungian nightmare served to you by an Andalusian Mayan Soul Prophet by way of a delusionary fragment of a repressed childhood primal collective unconscious memory.” And that it is.
A thirtysomething writer who won a young playwrights award at 14, Knable displays a fast and furious comic mind. An early draft of “Spain” was presented at NYU in 1999, and the play was later developed into a full production at Woolly Mammoth in D.C. in 2001. This MCC version appears to be a new, more mature reworking.
Director Jeremy Dobrish does an especially good job following the play’s shifts in time, locale and style (action is set in “the present, sort of”). The comic touches, especially evident in the case of the two actors who double, are perfectly in key with the writing. Both writer and director get a strong assist from set designer Beowulf Boritt, who gives the audience two surprises in the second act.
Cast is uniformly strong. Annabella Sciorra is immensely likable as Barbara, the girl who dreams of going to Spain. Michael Aronov also amuses as the Conquistador. Veanne Cox is, as usual, precisely right as best friend Diversion, sturdy and reliable with a glint of eccentricity (which is mined when she starts to wave her fan during a mean flamenco dance).
Lisa Kron — who wrote and starred on Broadway in “Well” — plays the Mayan goddess as well as limns several other comedy roles. Ditto Erik Jensen, who gets an increasingly bigger laugh every time he jumps in from the wings to strum his guitar.
“Spain” doesn’t totally succeed. The playwright fails to connect all the dots satisfactorily in the end, and those with a low tolerance for whimsy might find their patience tried. But Knable’s first major New York offering is consistently interesting and quirkily offbeat.