(Review by Tulis McCall)
I hate hearing young women call each other Dude. It makes me want to whack them in the head and give them a lecture on “This is how you erase yourselves!!!” And furthermore, 15 and 16 year old girls are more of a curiosity to me than anything else these days. I feel as though we have nothing to discuss.
This is why I know that Fernanda Coppel is a cracker-jack writer. I fell into the story of Penelope (Xotchitl Romero) and Jackie (Carmen Zilles) like a pig into mud. This is some seriously fine work that Ms. Coppel has given us. These two young women are in a hormonal stew that is just beginning to pop. There is nothing “special” about them except for the fact that they are fully formed unique individuals who let little pearls drop out of their mouths every few minutes.
Dude I really like him, I mean
I know he trembles a lot and
he’s super paranoid all the time.
But when we’re alone, I feel like a serious connection.
Wham bam and there we are back in high school when the world ended just a few centimeters beyond the tip of your nose. Topics of conversation range from carpooling (Jackie’s dad was the last one to take it on) to marijuana and the poor quality of the last batch to Jackie’s mom, Sonia (Zabryna Guevara), who is MIA. Penelope misses Sonia almost as much as Jackie does.
And Sonia is another beautifully constructed character. At 40 she is feeling lost and kind of not in love with her husband. Her daughter gave her slippers for her birthday and Sonia thinks that if she could meet her 20-year-old self, that girl would kick her in the butt. She is nearly flat lining. She has taken time off and her husband Ricardo (Teddy Cañas) has given her his blessing. Besides which he has his own issues to deal with as does Penelope’s father Alejandro. (Alfredo Narcisco).
So they dynamic here of two men managing teenage girls is enough of a challenge, but Coppel ups the stakes with her own particular brand of surprises. She zigs and zags and layers this piece with one zinger after another. Some don’t work as well as the others, but nothing misses the mark completely. One thought I had later on was that this play could almost have taken place without the fathers. Not that they are boring or badly presented. It’s just that Coppel goes so deep into the women she presents (and these three are excellent actors all) that in comparison the men do not measure up.
This is an eye opening production. Finally we get a look into a Hispanic story that is not layered with drugs or crime or shame. This is an exuberant play. It is a cornucopia of gifts, and it deserves to be seen.
So – get on over there!
Bravo all around!
"An energetic, overstuffed play."
Jason Zinoman for New York Times
"While the author nails the messiness and resilience of family, “Chimichangas” doesn’t always go down easy."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"Coppel [playwright] keeps things moving, and she has a knack for snappy dialogue."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"Brims with zestful performances that almost atone for the work's shortcomings."
Andy Propst for Back Stage
"Fresh, zingy new play."
Jennifer Farrar for Associated Press
"The material hits every comic base and in a few (delicately directed) scenes ... manages to be quite moving."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...