Access Theater in Tribeca welcomes you to the rundown social club Caballeros Divinos in Spanish Harlem. Here you will find its proprietor is a petty criminal, and its regular customers are a down-and-out dreamer and a washed up ex-major league baseball player. With not much else on their personal and professional horizons, they are handed an opportunity for yet another of their outrageous get-rich-quick schemes.
Obie Award-winner and SAG Award-nominee Paul Calderon is the writer and director of Divine Horsemen; his script piques our interest from the very beginning. He also plays the intimidating Willie and has the audience in the palm of his hand from his first entrance, completely comfortable on stage and within his body.
Every performer in this play was outstanding. David Zayas plays “Iffy”, the proprietor of Caballeros Divinos. Zayas is probably best known from his roles in Dexter, the Hulu series Shut Eye and Netflix's Bloodline; in Divine Horsemen he again plays an unlikable character. He keeps stolen dogs out the back of his club awaiting their ransom, and commits acts of despicable violence. Yet Zayas has an unquantifiable likability about him that lets you see past his character’s negative qualities, and makes you melt straight into the soul of a flawed man. Zaya’s performance is more than natural and compelling, he is completely authentic.
David Deblinger as Raffi, the younger, mentally impaired brother of the man who kills himself in jail at the beginning of the play, is magnificent. It would be easy to fall into the trap of over-simplifying and playing this role with too much emphasis on the childlike qualities of this character, but thankfully Deblinger avoids this with professional finesse. Calderon’s writing and direction allows Raffi to be three-dimensional and gives levity to the seemingly “simple” character.
All in all, Divine Horsemen is at once interesting and heartbreaking, and well worth the experience.