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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 6, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 45
My Mañana Comes: American wishes at the back of house
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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My Mañana Comes: American wishes at the back of house

by Paul Torres - SGN A&E Writer

MY MAÑANA COMES
ARTSWEST
Through November 22


It is pleasing that ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery seems to have the golden touch for another season. I was concerned about their latest offering, the American Dream-themed production of My Mañana Comes written by Elizabeth Irwin. I have sometimes cringed at the portrayals of characters with Latin background. Fortunately, that is not the case in this production.

In My Mañana Comes, three young bussers of Mexican heritage and one who is African-American work in an upscale restaurant kitchen. It portrays their hopes, dreams, and harsh realities. I do not see the characters as 'kitchen help' or 'people of color' (a term, by the way, that I revile). Instead, I see them as they are: four guys working very hard to get the food out from the back of house at this very busy chic restaurant. While working their shifts, their conversations cover the issues of immigration, wage theft, and their personal struggles.

The four men fill the stage with masculine angst. Joshua Chessin-Yudin brings an inimitable optimistic joviality to the stage as Whalid. Peter, played by Tyler Trerise, mines his hesitating ambitions to powerful effect. Santino Garcia brings Jorge alive with his hopeful emotions. Finally, young Pepe, played by Chris Rodriguez brings out his character's naïve impetuous personality.

The rushed pacing of the plot does not diminish the stellar acting of the four principals. Irwin's theme simply outlines that Whalid, Jorge, Pepe, and Peter exist in a real time and place, even sometimes without any absolution, resolution, or a denouement. They simply live on. Revealed here is their humanity and conviction for their respective dreams and goals whether it be sending money back to family in Mexico, supporting a daughter, or funding paramedic school.

Director Matthew Wright's strength is just letting the characters fill the stage with their pure emotions. They freely express themselves with Irwin's deft script. Whether the young men are speaking English or Spanish, you do not need translation to understand the anxiety of losing a job, a dream, or a safe place to live when the acting is this accomplished. Despite some missing beats when the acting rhythm seemed off in parts, which could have been the result of Opening Night excitement and a new force of actors on stage, it was a resounding joy to see My Mañana Comes staged in Seattle.

My Mañana Comes exposes the passion, desperation, and viciousness to survive for all ranks of life. It is a star spangled banner bared under theater lights or in this case flickering fluorescent lights. Irwin's slice of Upper East Side busser life punctuates with wisdom and profanity and it does stir up some of its political aspirations. Although it cuts as sharp as the kitchen crew's knives, do we really care about who is slicing our cocktail limes in the back kitchen? My Mañana Comes can begin this conversation.

I must applaud ArtsWest for not giving this production an ethnic-centric showcase marketing campaign. Instead they focused on its beauty, acting talent, lighting and stage design, and costumes that showed respect for the material and for theater. From my experience, this is a fine achievement for the local theater scene.

Later on this season, ArtsWest is presenting another stripe of the American Dream with Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Biff and Happy could just as well be in this kitchen working. It will be interesting to see this connection in the daylight of our current times.

For more information, visit www.artswest.org or call (206) 938-0339. ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery is located at 4711 California Avenue SW, Seattle WA 98116.

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