Divine Horsemen

Iffy (David Zayas), Benny (Robert Lee Leng) and Willie (Paul Calderon) attempt to subdue Raffi (David Deblinger) in Primitive Grace’s World Premiere of Calderon’s Divine Horsemen, open through January 27th at Access Theater, 380 Broadway. Original photo by David Zayas Jr.

By Andrew Andrews

“What a drag it is getting old.”
Rolling Stones

Iffy and Willie “used to be somebody ’round here” in Spanish Harlem; they “commanded respect.” Now, in middle age, they make ends meet by commanding ransom money—or at least, they try to—dognapping pedigrees and waiting for reward posters to appear on telephone poles in the neighborhood. And Willie (Paul Calderon), he shakes down deadbeats as the first string offense for a never-seen loan shark named Chucho, while Iffy (David Zayas), he just kinda shakes down children for their lunch money, by operating the neighborhood candy store.

“What happened?” asks Iffy. “World kept spinnin’ ’round, and left our asses behind.”

But Iffy and Willie, see, they have a plan now, thanks to Benny (Robert Lee Leng), the half-Filipino, half-Dominican punk that owes Chucho money, down-on-his-luck since an injury ruined his chances at a major league pitching career. Another punk, Jojo (Sebastian “Baz” Mitre), has just committed seppuku, leaving behind a stash of mint-condition comic books worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to his intellectually-disabled brother Raffi (David Deblinger), who can’t begin to understand the fortune he’s literally sitting on. If Benny can get Raffi and his mother out of the house just long enough for Willie and Iffy to stop by, then getting old won’t be looking quite as bleak as it is right now.

The last time we saw Calderon and Zayas together was for Primitive Grace’s inaugural production, Fringe of Humanity, this time last year back here at Access Theater, and just like Fringe, Divine Horsemen is an intense, sometimes violent drama littered with tidbits of comedy. It’s a well-written, expertly-acted, fast-paced performance, sprinkled with subtle rhymes like “charm on yo’ arm” and Spanish interjections that flow so rapidly, so seamlessly that you might have to wait for your subconscious to point them out to you. And if you like things a little bit meta, we can’t help but wonder if Calderon wasn’t playing around with the meaning of “comic relief” when he wrote this script!

Do yourself a favor: climb the stairs to Access Theater before Divine Horsemen ends on January 27th, then come back here and let us know what you thought. Whether you enjoy it as we did, or it isn’t your thing, your reviews help others decide whether they should attend, and your ratings help us help you find future performances you’re sure to love!

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Andrew Andrews attended Divine Horsemen at Access Theater in New York on Thursday, January 11, 2018 @ 8:00pm to write this review.