Oyá: Call the Storm is a mystical and compelling story of spirits and danger: a perfect work for the Miracle Theatre Group to have taken on this season. Afro-Cuban drumming, an original score, creative choreography, and a brilliant set and costumes set the stage for something that could be truly incredible. And although a work like this is exactly what we have come to love and expect from Miracle, it doesn't feel fully realized.
Oyá (Freila Merencio Blanco) is a feminine warrior spirit in the African Yoruba tradition, ruler of the wind and cemeteries: She can conjure storms and hurricanes, breathe life into a human, or allow it to be whisked away. Her best friend Ikú (Luciana Proaño) is the spirit of death, always looking to lead humans from this life into the next.
In this story, conceived and directed by Rebecca Martínez, Ikú has challenged Oyá to destroy the world. But when Oyá calls forth a terrifying storm, she witnesses the humanity of three mortals who are guarded by the spirits of masculinity, femininity, and playfulness (Carlos Alexis Cruz, Mayra Acevedo, Maya Malán-Gonzales, respectively). Each character's heartbreaking story is told in dance and movement; Freila Merencio Blanco not only plays Oyá, but she also choreographed the show, and she has made excellent use of each performer's personal range. José Eduardo González's set evokes a ship as well as a pier: weather-beaten boards intersect at harsh angles, while a long, white cloth is alternately a sail and the sea itself. Martínez and Blanco have used every inch of the playing space, and the scenes are often rich and layered.
Among the cast, Cruz, an athletic performer who also works with Do Jump!, steals the show with his feats of sheer acrobatic artistry. The staggering difference between his physicality and the rest of the cast's is somewhat jarring, though, and highlights other disparities. Some scenes have few to no spoken words, while in others the characters muddle through poorly scripted dialogue that interrupts the story's flow.
It's an admirable effort, and unlike anything else running on any other stage right now. It simply feels unfinished, or unedited. But a Miracle show that doesn't reach its full potential is still profoundly interesting and thought provoking, simply because its potential is so great.