References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot

In the sweepingly surreal world of this masterful yet modest little play, the fantasy existence that keeps a lonely Barstow-imprisoned housewife sane while her career soldier husband is off fighting in the Persian Gulf respects no rules of playwriting. In Jose Rivera's gloriously raw and evocatively lyrical writing, there's only a rampant barrage of disturbing ideas and intriguing situations played out in bold strokes by a remarkable ensemble of actors under the precision guidance of director Jon Lawrence Rivera.

Jose Rivera's work is reminiscent of latter-day Tennessee Williams, though created without the debilitating dysfunction and corporeal excesses that made Williams die dreadfully misunderstood. On an ingeniously simple set by Kimberly Lyons, Gabriela (Maria Tomas, an unstoppably brave actor who could carry the world on her shoulders like a Latina Atlas) waits for the return of her Benito (Ken Arquelio) with trepidation. Gabriela's drab world of waiting, serving her man, and thwarting the advances of a ballsy 14-year-old neighbor with raging hormones (Ray Santiago), as her culture has taught her to endure, is juxtaposed to her active fantasy life, which includes conversations with the moon (Alejandro Furth), her horny cat (Minerva Vier), and her pet's dangerous coyote boyfriend (Justin Huen). Her daily life is a continuous struggle to better herself and improve her situation.

Perhaps what makes this such a haunting success — besides the ability of both Riveras to find a link among the play's gloriously sensual poetry, its brazen sexuality, and its jarring ordinariness — is that in the final analysis it's an indelible antiwar play, exploring the horrific effects on the home front. It's a testament that war terrifyingly and unjustly rocks not only the world of innocent people who have the misfortune of living on top of a desirable catch of fossil fuels but also the world of those left behind at home — not to mention the dazed and confused soldiers, returning to relive for the rest of their lives the horror of what they wrought.

Presented by Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners at Art/Works Theatre, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m. Sep. 29-Nov. 4. (323) 871-1912.