To escape his forbidding mother and bullying brother, sensitive young Reiderico (Jon Norman Schneider) spends lonely hours gazing down into his poor family’s water well. There, his imaginary but real-to-him friend Lucero (Alexis Camins) lives at the bottom, listening and advising. As Reiderico tells his stronger, more confident double: “We need each other. We’re attached. We’re two veins flowing from the same heart.” When a major storm brews, both outside and inside the house, Reiderico changes places with his alter ego. At first the troubled family is stunned by their son’s “new” self-assurance and emotional maturity, but this leads to further conflict, until one of the friends has to leave for good.
Blind Mouth Singing, a new coming-of-age play by Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, has a few striking moments resulting from its structure, mostly after the friends swap clothes and names mid-play. But Cortiñas writes dialogue with a stilted lyricism and covers a lot of familiar domestic-drama territory. He assigns each character a pat, well-defined emotional need to work through by the end. And flatness and languor weigh down the slow drive to psychological resolution, where the playwright announces what we’ve already perceived and pumps the metaphors dry: “Your aunt, she accused me of poisoning our water supply with my failed love,” says Mother (Mia Katigbak) at one point.
Director Rubén Polendo does an admirable job shaping space and moods with his cast. And Zach Zirlin’s suggestive set design spreads the family’s barren homestead far and wide. But despite their efforts, the play leaves us wishing at the well, too: If only less expected discoveries could be dredged up from it.