Miami New Drama artistic director Michel Hausmann is in full flow with his welcoming speech when a man and woman interrupt him, climbing onto the stage and stripping down to their circumspect underwear. They're actors Ana Graham and Antonio Vega and for the next 65 minutes they're going to bring a Roman apartment house to life and fill it with fleeting joy.
It's an almost bare stage, two kitchen chairs, two tables piled on each other in front of gray walls, two upstage entries.
They actors chat idly as they pull on a frumpy dress and flats for her, a rumpled white suit for him. They move the tables, one to center stage and the other against wall. A child's scooter appears from back stage. There's a suitcase, a basket of washing, a grocery cart with dishes and food. He bends over and chalks the outline of his shoes on the floor. They are dance steps. She crosses to the stage right wall and chalks a window on the now black walls as the house lights dim.
It's 1938 and Hitler is arriving in Rome to meet with Mussolini. A voiceover describes his arrival.
She is married, meh, with six children and he is single. They live in separate apartments and the set is used for both. Crossing backstage with heavy steps and brief appearances in the two entrance ways delineates the distance between the two places.
They use chalk on the walls: windows, lamp, telephone, a picture of Mussolini, coat racks, door locks, a bird cage, a gramophone. A cigarette is lighted and the smoke appears in an open window. An item is mentioned, it's drawn. The actors are also the sounds of the door buzzers, the ringing of the phone, off stage voices and a chirping parrot. Busy people these two as they meet as strangers and part as, well, that's the plot and I'm not telling.
A well acted piece, Graham and Vega are secure in their roles of the frustrated housewife and the lonely, fearful bachelor but the performance is hampered by the accents of the players. Both are from Mexico and at times, in moments of high excitement, the dialogue is lost to non- Spanish speaking watchers. They are not miked.
The cleverness of the staging and the competence of the actors outweighs the emotional content of this play, but that does not detract from the enjoyment.
“A Special Day” is a presentation by Miami New Drama of a production by The Play Company and Por Piedad Teatro and was directed by actors Graham and Vega.
It has a limited run through March 26 at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. 1-800-211-1414 www.colonymb.org/