Paloma Nozicka’s two-hander script, Enough to Let The Light In, grips you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go. Director Georgette Verdin builds a deliberate pulse underneath the work, aided by Stefanie M. Senior’s spooky’ sound design and Sotirios Livaditis’ set, full of delightful tricks that drive the action forward.
Enough to Let The Light In is one of the tightest and most satisfying new plays I’ve seen in a long time. The economy of language and onstage movement means every action matters, even where a guest hangs their coat becomes a point of dramatic tension. It’s very hard for a story to get ahead of me, and I noticed pretty much every suspicious thing or could-be suspicious line of dialogue. Georgette Verdin directs the piece with a swift and intentional hand, with incredible attention to the details. The actors are so compelling, I forgot what I’d seen, and was shocked all over again by the discovery that my suspicions were correct!
Chicago has a strong legacy of excellent horror plays, from Isaac Gomez’s The Displaced to Ike Holter’s The Light Fantastic. Nozicka’s script is a worthy addition to Chicago’s canon of psychological realist terror. Presented at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, it also marks the first full stage production mounted by Teatro Vista under the leadership of co-Artistic Directors Lorena Diaz and Wendy Mateo.
Cynthia (Lisandra Tena), a former artist-turned-recluse, is dating Mark (Melissa DuPrey), whom she met through an app. It quickly becomes clear that the two are opposites in personality and world views, but it’s a comfortable tension. There is excitement and chemistry in their contrasts.
In queer culture there is a concept called U-Hauling, that describes two femme partners moving in or getting engaged extremely quickly. It’s applied well here to explain why Mark and Cynthia don’t know a lot of very important details about each other, almost a year into their relationship. The value conflicts that surface are all pushed to the absolute max. Every promise made in the dark threatens to ring hollow as more is revealed about each woman’s past. You start to wonder who is haunted, as more and more of their relationship unravels before our eyes and the psychological stakes climb.
The veil between what is real, what is delusion, and what is haunting is thin. This play draws its terror from real circumstances, which is why I categorized it as psychological realist terror. It’s a brilliant choice to create horror out of the idea that we really may not know who we share a bed with, or how they may push our buttons. As a viewer you’re able to draw your own conclusions about the paranormal effects on the world of the play. I did enjoy that the play delivers on its spooky subject matter and tone. Stephanie M. Senior’s sound design gave authentic texture to the noises in the house, from the sound of someone walking around upstairs to the warmth of a 78 record player.
It’s refreshing to see Melissa DuPrey’s craft and how it has grown since her time on Grey’s Anatomy. I can attest that TV has just made her an even more incisive actor in addition to her stage experience, and this role is juicy for DuPrey. Melissa is luminous as Mark, a therapist who holds all the optimism of potential healing. Cynthia is serving an updated and Latina version of Victorian translucent beauty, in stark opposition to DuPrey’s vivacious Mark. Together they soften our hearts with their tenderness, and then rip them apart again as they peel back complex layers of emotion and loss. Enough to Let the Light In is a can’t-miss thrill by promising playwright Paloma Nozicka.
Enough To Let The Light In runs at Teatro Vista through October 23rd.
Marc: Melissa DuPrey
Cover (Marc): Gaby Moldovan
Cover (Cynthia): Sofia Tew
Scenic Design: Sotirios Livaditis
Costume Design: Gregory Graham
Lighting Design: Emma Deane**
Sound Design: Stefanie M. Senior
Properties Design: Lonnae Hickman
Intimacy Director: Courtney Abbott
Production Manager: Julie Jachym
Technical Director: Johnnie Schleyer
Master Electrician: Conchita Avitia
Stage Manager: Wendye Clarendon*
Assistant Stage Manager: Olivia Ellery
Casting: Adelina Feldman-Schultz
*Actors Equity Association
TEATRO VISTA STAFF
Co-Artistic Director: Lorena Diaz
Co-Artistic Director: Wendy Mateo
Artistic Producer: Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel