There’s a lot to unpack in The Displaced.
Quite literally, in fact, as it’s moving day for Marísa (Jordan Maria Don) and Lev (Troy Rockett), who’ve just acquired their starter dream home in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. An interracial artist couple with big aspirations, they’ve landed a classic, brick-walled loft near the Pink line, and they’re excited to be embarking on their new life adventure together.
Or are they?
Like cracks in old plaster, their partnership soon reveals some structural damage. The stress of the move—combined with deeply-rooted suspicion—results in the kind of circular bickering that signals to everyone in the room (except the couple in question!) that this relationship is doomed. In relatively quick succession, Marísa and Lev fight over paint swatches, household decision-making, internalized racism and issues of trust, occasionally punctuating their arguments with fumbling attempts at physical intimacy.
As if that doesn't create enough tension, every time an “L” train rumbles by the room shakes, small objects fall to the floor, and the lights flicker ominously. And into this uncomfortable atmosphere creeps a horror that threatens not only their equilibrium, but their very existence.
Crowded Fire Theater’s West Coast premiere of Isaac Gómez’ spooky two-hander—directed by Mina Morita and Karina Gutiérrez—is the perfect prelude to the approaching Halloween season. Much like the recently released Nia DaCosta film Candyman, and Bennett Fisher’s 2016 haunted Campo Maldito, the play focuses as much on the everyday horrors of gentrification and displacement as it does on jump scares and skillfully-deployed special effects (courtesy of Devon LaBelle). As Marísa and Lev dig into the (sometimes literal) bones of their new apartment, what they find out about the original occupants disquiets them, even as they try to assert to themselves and each other that they really do belong. In this space. Together.