Review Roundup: AMERICAN (TELE)VISIONS Opens At New York Theatre Workshop

american (tele)visions is an explosive collision between the American Dream and the American Nightmare-the story of an undocumented Mexican family.

By: Sep. 29, 2022
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Review Roundup: AMERICAN (TELE)VISIONS Opens At New York Theatre Workshop

New York Theatre Workshop and Theater Mitu presents the World Premiere of american (tele)visions by NYTW Tow Playwright-in-Residence Victor I, opening tonight! Read reviews for the production below!

The cast of american (tele)visions includes Clew (Angels in America), Raúl Castillo ("Looking"), Ryan J. Haddad (Hi, Are You Single?), Elia Monte-Brown ("New Amsterdam") and Bianca "b" Norwood (Seven Deadly Sins).

american (tele)visions features scenic & costume design by Bretta Gerecke (Until the Next Breath), specialty costumes by Mondo Guerra ("Project Runway"), lighting design by Jeanette Yew (KPOP), and technology design by Justin Nestor, Alex Hawthorn and Kelly Colburn (). David Caparelliotis (Macbeth) is the casting director, J. David Brimmer (Hangmen) serves as fight director, Andy Arden-Reese (ASA Performance Lab) as intimacy director, Dawn-Elin Fraser (Slave Play) as voice & text coach and Shelley Miles (Our Brother's Son) as stage manager.

A long, long time ago-the '90s-in a Walmart far, far away, Erica, our Hero of Ages Lost, pushes her shopping cart-that most sacred ancient vessel of capitalism-through the aisles of a memory play. american (tele)visions is an explosive collision between the American Dream and the American Nightmare-the story of an undocumented Mexican family. With singular wit and pathos, NYTW Tow Playwright-in-Residence Victor I. Cazares creates an epic multiverse where time is fluid and the characters are refracted through literal televisions, imagined video games, endless Walmart aisles, and a double-wide torn in two. NYTW Usual Suspect Rubén Polendo, founding artistic director of Theater Mitu, directs the multi-media production which includes live performance, live camera feeds and pre-recorded video.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Amanda Marie Miller, Theatrely:American tele(visions) is a new work from New York Theatre Workshop in co-production with Theater Mitu. Written by NYTW's Tow Playwright-in-Residence Victor I. Cazares and directed by Rubén Polendo, this 100 minute straight-through piece had me oscillating between engaged and overwhelmed. While the show brings big stories and big choices, the collection of everything at once dilutes what could have been a powerful punch.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Ruben Polendo's direction is flashy, and is in complete sync with Bretta Gerecke's equally flamboyant costume and scenic design, which features four huge metal boxes that open to reveal things both mundane and fantastical. Clew and Haddad manage to bring a light tone to the proceedings as they deliver all the brand names. After 15 minutes, unfortunately, the mere mention of Malibu Barbie or Happy Meals or Downy fabric softener fail to provoke even a mild giggle.

Maya Tribbitt, Time Out New York: The production's lighting and set work alongside pre-recorded video and live camerawork to create a hypnotic, carnivalesque environment for the audience and the characters alike. As Erica's whimsical gay neighbor Jeremy, Ryan J. Haddad-who uses a walker-is the delightful force behind the show's funniest scenes (including some hilarious forays into Barbie-doll lore), and Clew's understated performance as Jesse/Alejandro features a few shifts that make you do a double take. But the sophisticated graphics often overwhelm the performances and the storytelling. american (tele)visions takes an ambitiously wide look at major themes (consumerism, gender, technology), but its jumpy approach is less HDTV than ADHD. The channels keep changing, but a lot of the play is static.

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Interview: Raúl Castillo on AMERICAN (TELE)VISIONS Being Familiar to Him Photo
Interview: Raúl Castillo on AMERICAN (TELE)VISIONS Being 'Familiar' to Him

BroadwayWorld sat down with Raúl Castillo to discuss how Victor I. Cazares' american (tele)visions and its characters are 'familiar' to him, what audiences can expect from his upcoming film The Inspection, starring Jeremy Pope and Gabrielle Union, and what he looks for in future projects after thinking he was done with theatre.


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