Published July 10, 2005
One of the city's most accomplished and unsung theater artists is Claudio Raygoza, artistic/executive director of ion theatre company. Raygoza currently stages Mississippi writer Mart Crowley's tense little drama "For Reasons that Remain Unclear" at Sixth and Penn. Jerry Phalen portrays an aged priest named Conrad and Jeffrey Jones plays Patrick, a younger, Mississippi-born American screenwriter. Crowley, born in Vicksburg, Miss., in 1935, is author of the seminal gay play "Boys in the Band" (1968) and is a Hollywood screenwriter.
Raygoza stages Crowley's 90-minute 1993 play in one act. Conrad and Patrick have met by chance on the streets of Rome and Patrick invites the good father, who insists on being called Conrad, out for lunch and then up to his well-appointed, boutique hotel room for a drink. Through Raygoza's meticulous direction and Jones' equally detailed physicality, we learn a great deal about Patrick's character. A teetotaler, he is both tidy and a lover of luxury. During the extended get-acquainted banter that may be preface to an affair to remember, Patrick removes newly purchased custom-made shirts from their bags, removes the pins, and folds each one just so, stowing them in his luggage. He is checking out tomorrow, a fact that causes Phalen's nervous, less-defined Conrad some dismay. Obviously, he hopes for a tryst.
As the seemingly random discussion continues, Patrick draws more and more details about his life from the tightly wound priest, who is loosened by overindulgence in a post-prandial aperitif. When Patrick, who is everything he seems deeply damaged and volatile has extracted enough, he moves in for the psychological kill. The well-staged denouement is both tragic and sad, leaving one with the feeling that going home for a good cry might help.
Tiny Sixth at Penn has never looked so good. Raygoza's production design, complete with period Italianate furniture laced visually and aurally with the tintinnabulations and luminosity of Rome, is extraordinary, as is Sally Stockton's lighting design.
"For Reasons that Remain Unclear" is one of those fine, San Diego theatrical wonders that must be experienced. Raygoza next appears as an actor in Lynx Performance Theatre's production of Karen Hartman's "Gum," playing July 8 August 7 at Lynx Theatre Space, 9653 Ariane Dr.
"For Reasons that Remain Unclear" continues through July 24. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and special Wednesday matinees. Sixth at Penn Theatre, Sixth Avenue at Pennsylvania, Hillcrest, $17( students and seniors) $20-$23, www.6thatpenn.com or (619) 688-9210.