What a pleasure to watch a play that isn’t filled with white people, seriously! Here is a thoughtful play about a family at a certain time in their lives. The author could have picked any slice of life with these people because his characters are so layered and so vibrant. Nice.
Joe Garza (Felix Solis) is a man who was once a local hero and who now is the proud owner of a sack of deflated hopes. In his small Texas town he is doing the best he can, but it leaves him drinking way too much with his high school friend Cesar (Bernardo Cubrí) at the bar owned by his sister Lou (Rosal Colón). Lou also has her share of disappointments. Everyone in this universe does. And everyone is either related by blood, business or church. Joe’s wife Lela (Selenis Leyva) is Cesar’s sister. Lou is running against Lela for the presidency of a church committee. Cesar and Joe work together as auto mechanics.
And don’t even get me started on Father Gil (Alfredo Narciso) who is returning to his hometown to serve at the Basilica.
These folks cannot spit without it landing in one or the other’s territory. They are bound up tight as can be in the past hurts and fighting each other for air so they don’t suffocate. And the kids Ray (the excellent Jake Cannavale) and Jessica (Yadira Guevara-Prip) are pretty much left to fend for themselves. But even the kids get caught in the whirlpool that is holding everyone down.
Where Alvarado is strong in character, however, he falls short in plot development, which means we get lost as one story line after another is laid out. Although the main story line seems to follow Joe, the other tributaries of the river are equally compelling. This means we lose our focus and don’t know who is leading the parade: Lela and Joe? Lela and Lou? Joe and Lou? Jay and his dad? Father Gil and the Garza family? All rich and intriguing stuff, but all are given the same weight, and so overwritten. When the second act tries to complete itself there is so much to tidy up that the steam is let out of the engine.
It should be said that this is an excellent cast with Soli and Leyva doing some outstanding work. So Alvarado has been handed a gift in which he has the opportunity to look at his writing shown at its best. I look forward to more of his work and hope he will trust his excellent senses to guide him to invest in saying more with less and picking one storyline to pull the others in its wake.
"Excitement withers, followed by creeping frustration."
Claudia La Rocco for New York Times
"An overstuffed modern melodrama."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"Cannavale (who looks like his father, Bobby) doesn’t make an auspicious stage debut, smiling vaguely even during tense scenes. That disconnect reflects the muddled tone of the play."
Frank Sceck for New York Post
External links to full reviews from popular press...