By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Kitchen Dog Theater opens its 15th annual New Works Festival with Octavio Solis' absurd one-act Se Llama Cristina. It begins as a fuzzy encounter between a couple, played by Dallas stage newcomers Vanessa DeSilvio and Israel Lopez, wacked out on heroin and waking up a little hazy about who they are and how they met. They can't even remember their own names. Are they Vespa and Mike? Vera and Mickey? Vesta and Miguel?
Stumbling and crawling around a squalid motel room, they suddenly notice a pink baby crib in the corner. In it, a fried chicken drumstick. But where is the baby? Is there a baby? And who is this big John Wayne dude, played like a Coen brothers villain by Jeremy Schwartz?
In the 80-minute play, directed by Christina Vela, Solis plants red herrings. Maybe this place is, like Sartre's No Exit, some anteroom to heaven or hell. Maybe the couple sold the baby for drugs. Then a pretty young girl (Samantha Rios, inaudible under loud music in her scene) crawls through the window. Ah, here's the baby all grown, come back to warn Mom and Dad that if they don't get clean, she'll end up as fried as they are.
As a metaphorical statement on parental responsibility, Se Llama Cristina comes slowly, but effectively, into focus.