Machado's ability to combine seriousness of purpose with humor in crisp dialogue is admirable, but his sketchy plotting seems perfunctory. Things aren't helped by a fourth character named Tom, a mysterious American wandering through the byways of Havana exuding a vague sense of malevolence. Nevertheless, the well-mounted production, with a quartet of arresting performances and tight direction by Stefanie Sertich, holds attention.
Crystal Field, a doyenne of downtown theater, stamps Ruth with her own unique personality, endearingly awkward and befuddled one moment and raging with visceral fury the next. When she wails to the heavens, "Am I the last standing Marxist?," it's both comic and moving. Juan Javier Cardenas has genuine matinee-idol charm as her Cuban foil, and David Skeist engenders sympathy as the janitor. Liam Torres manages to make Tom convincing and takes on various other roles, from a boorish tourist to a gay man looking to get his Cuban lover on a boat out of the country.
Maruti Evans' moody set and lighting help create suspense, while Michael Moricz's music and Elizabeth Rhodes' sound design add spicy Cuban flavor.
Presented by Theater for the New City and Intar at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., NYC. April 3–18. Thu.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111, www.theatermania.com, or www.theaterforthenewcity.net.