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Review: THE HOMBRES at Artists Repertory Theatre

Review: THE HOMBRES at Artists Repertory Theatre

This production runs at the Ellen Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage through October 9.

Every once in a while, a play completely renews my faith in humanity. Tony Meneses' THE HOMBRES, now running at Artists Repertory Theatre, is such a play. Set in New Jersey, THE HOMBRES tells the story of three macho Latino construction workers who find their way into a yoga studio next to their job site, where the instructor is a gay Latino man. Despite the fact that, in many ways, the men could not be more different, they find their way toward friendships that surprise them all.

I may have been extra emotional the night I saw THE HOMBRES - I started tearing up while Luan Schooler (ART's interim artistic director) and J.S. May (executive director) were welcoming the audience to ART's 40th was wonderful to be in a full theatre again! But given the enthusiastic laughs and sniffles during the show and the wet eyes I saw after the lights had come up, I was not the only one affected by this heartwarming - and also heartbreaking - play.

THE HOMBRES opens with Julian (played by Phillip Ray Guevara) sitting in the yoga studio where he teaches, delivering a monologue about the combination of attraction and fear that shapes his feelings toward men. Then we meet the construction workers: Hector (Jimmy Garcia), the gruff, intimidating foreman; Pedro (Demetri Tostado), a joker who always has a smile on his face; and Beto (Jonathan Hernandez), a young man driven to constantly prove his masculinity. Rounding out the cast is Miles (Tyler Caffall), one of the few male students at the yoga studio. The mens' lives start to intersect when Hector expresses an interest in learning yoga.

THE HOMBRES gives us an inside look at a type of relationship we don't often see on stage - intimate male friendship. The men are each afraid of something, each looking for something, and even they don't entirely know what it is. But, they find a safe space in the yoga studio where they can explore the many ways there are to be a man in our society. It's heavy stuff, but it's also very funny. Meneses masterfully wields comedy to keep you off guard so you don't see the emotional punches coming.

I've read several reviews of different productions of THE HOMBRES, and none of them have done it justice. This one doesn't either. Just please take my word for it and go see this beautiful play.

THE HOMBRES runs at the Ellen Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage through October 9. More details and tickets here.

Photo credit: Lava Alapai

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