BWW Review: Reality Is Served in ArtsWest's MY MANANA COMES
I do not enjoy watching scary movies because I cannot remove myself from the horror that is being screened before my eyes. I can, however, appreciate a well done scary movie when thrilling realism draws me in to a point of no return. That is how I felt when I saw ArtsWest's My Mañana Comes.
Elizabeth Irwin's involving, inclusive My Mañana Comes is an anthropological study: with every new day beginning with the blaring switch of the florescent lights. we observe the language and dance of four busboys in New York City's Upper East Side trying to make ends meet. Directed by Mathew Wright, it does not take long for the audience to realize that Peter (Tyler Trerise), Whalid (Joshua Chessin-Yudin), Jorge (Santino Garcia) and Pepe (Chris Rodriguez) are in a rigged system that takes advantage of migrant workers, their only source of comfort delusions of grandeur.
For me, the difficulty of sitting through My Mañana Comes was due to the hyperrealism. The cast brought me along with them through the tedium of a five-day work period, which certainly drove home the tedium that these four characters went through to survive, but I found the pacing just as enjoyable as they did. Because of this, the experience did not feel like escapism, for better or for worse.
But then again, this play is a character study. The stakes were not blatant, but internal and cultural. The antagonist was the system, hence why all of the tension came from the characters' testimonies blowing off steam. Aside from the occasional jab at a coworker's expense and an explosive conclusion, the dialogue felt like four characters with overlapping monologues until near the end of Act II.
With that, I would love to praise the acting in this play, particularly Trerise's portrayal of the charming Peter, clearly overqualified for menial labor. Trerise's performance was one of the best I have seen this season; he brought to life Peter's agonizing pursuit to receive the decent and just treatment the system owes him. Trerise clearly established Peter as the leader of his pack. Rodriguez sweetly portrays the naive, picked-on Pepe, counterbalancing the stoicism of Garcia's portrayal of the pragmatic Jorge. Chessin-Yudin's Whalid was quite funny and convincing as the crass kid from Long Island.
Props to the scenic designer Burton Yuen for bringing such a beautifully realistic restaurant kitchen to life. Every detail, from the red lightbulbs in the heat lamps to the amount of salt in the shakers brought the realism into overdrive.
I also love that half of the dialogue was entirely in Spanish. True, to the non-Spanish speaker, those moments are indecipherable, but that felt very much like the point. Those moments were the inside joke the busboys could tell in front of the boss, establishing even the audience as a participator in this unfair system.
Did I enjoy reliving the boredom, the frustration, day-in-and-day-out of four characters' placement in an unfair society? No. But objectively, I can say that what the play set out to accomplish was done quite well.
I give ArtsWest's My Mañana Comes a 3.5/5 stars.
My Mañana Comes performs at ArtsWest through November 22nd, 2015. For tickets and information, visit www.artswest.org.