At the most devastating moments in my life, I’m always baffled about how things got so out of control. How did I let it happen? Was it one pivotal moment that I chose this path to destruction? Or was it a series of little things… ignoring this, going with that, picking one thing over the other? Or still was there a part of me that predicted a reckless outcome and pursued it anyway.
Teatro Vista presents MOMMA’S BOYZ. The show opens with Mimic talking to his best friend Shine. Through Mimic’s monologue, we realize Shine is a ghost. Shine was killed by Thug. Why? Was it avoidable? Through the magic of theatrics, time rewinds. The clock ticks backwards as we see all the moments that led to the fatal one. We learn about these three guys, individually and collectively. We see the subtle unraveling of childhood friendships. Distrust growing from a snub here and a secret there. Mean-spirited accusations replacing good-natured teasing. We see it all in reverse. MOMMA’S BOYZ makes hindsight the focal point.
Playwright Candido Tirado drops us into a dicey latino inner-city community. Tirado makes it authentic with plenty of slang. ‘Yo’ = hey, ‘dead store’ = funeral home, ‘corner clocking’ = selling drugs. The dialogue is almost lyrical as I decipher the story. Tirado gives a glimpse of life in the projects and what people do to get out of their poverty. The story gives a real human side, both positive and negative, of drugs and guns. It’s a powerful drama with plenty of humor. Under the direction of Ricardo Gutierrez, the stage is full of personality. An animated Steve Casillas (Mimic) kicks off the show playfully monologuing to his dead buddy. Marvin Quijada (Shine) silently reacts to everything Casillas says. Even in death, the chemistry between Casillas and Quijada is this tight bond. The flashbacks reinforce this solid first impression. These two are best buds. Rounding out the trio, Jesse David (Thug) starts out despicable and backs into amicable. David’s nonchalance over killing a friend is disturbing. Going backwards, David reveals an underlying edgy jealousy over Quijada. In a middle scene, an oblivious Quijada has a profound statement about selling-drugs-with-my-best-friends-what-can-go-wrong? The entire show is anchored on these guys‘ camaraderie. Casillas, Quijada, David make it work with high energy, hi-jinx. They exhaustively poke fun of each other. It’s mostly entertaining but towards the end…which is really the beginning… I get a little tired of it. I want to yell out ‘yo, bro, let it go yo.‘
Set Designer Regina Garcia creates a colorful ghetto. Garcia has multi-dimensional cut-out structures with graffiti on the the inside. Lighting Designer Mac Vaughey illuminates the vibrant look as time moves backwards. Projected ‘three hours ago‘ or ‘two months earlier‘ set each scene up. Despite Gutierrez pacing it quick with seamless transitions, the multitude of scenes gets old in the end. With fewer flashbacks and clipping some dialogue, Tirado could tighten up the apron-strings on MOMMA’S BOYZ. Still, this cast makes MOMMA’S BOYZ a fascinating deconstruction of friendship.
Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes includes an intermission
At Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago
Written by Candido Tirado
Directed by Ricardo Gutierrez
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru December 4th