#119. As a server, I’ve worked with many Latinos over the years. That statement sounds politically incorrect but it’s true. Whereas Americans find the restaurant industry beneath them, Latinos are willing to work as dishwashers, food runners, bussers, or whatever job is open. They have arrived, often by questionable means, in the U.S. to seek the American dream. They work 1-3 jobs in support of family back home. Their details vary but the stories are similar. They are poor, resilient and sometimes illegal.
Teatro Luna presents LIVING LARGE IN A MINI KIND OF WAY. Lilly’s husband has died. Her sister and brother-in-law want her to lean on them. Lilly prefers the company of Little Maria and Big Maria. The Marias are her employees but she thinks of them as family. What do they think? Well, they *know* she is the source for their survival. So, they take their pay with a side of well-meaning but forced life and English lessons. But tea sandwiches and grammar workbooks don’t provide sustainability. Maria needs a quicker fix. As Lilly ignores her past and present, the Marias struggle to find a future. LIVING LARGE IN A MINI KIND OF WAY is a big helping of little life-defining moments.
Set Designer Brian Sidney Bembridge effectively establishes a “Pleasantville” tone. Bembridge’s house and yard look like whimsical cut-outs from a childhood dream of success. It is coloring-in-the-lines surreal. Into this idealistic setting, Playwright and Director Diane Rodriguez drops her diverse characters. They share a common ethnic background and judgmental nature. Each is certain that the other is completely wrong. It’s a fascinating twist on classism within a similar culture and even in the same family. Not at all preachy, Rodriguez provides the epiphany points with humor and whimsy. Rodriguez choreographs the talented cast with intermittent dance sequences. It adds a dream-like quality to the realism of the situations.
The ensemble acts like family. They’re critical, caring and curt sometimes within the same conversation. It feels authentic. Both sets of sisters, Isabel Quintero (Lilly) plus Sandra Marquez (Nellie) and Amanda delaGuardia (Little Maria) plus Miranda Gonzalez (Big Maria) share these genuine sisterly bonds. It’s different generations and circumstances but, same sibling rivalry. Sometimes, they are mean. Sometimes, they are kind. All the times, they are competing. In another relational scenario, Quintero and delaGuardia transcend designated roles for a truly surprising and charming pairing. Bringing the masculine to this female driven show, Madrid St. Angelo (Sammy/Joe)is endearing as both a haunting husband and a self-appointed caretaker.
LIVING LARGE IN A MINI KIND OF WAY is a whole lot of story within a short, tight amount of time. The gratifying ending continues to make me smile. People can have a huge impact with even the smallest effort.
Running Time: Seventy-five minutes with no intermission
At Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western
Written and directed by Diane Rodriguez
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm and 6pm
Thru June 17th
Buy Tickets at www.teatroluna.org