Off Broadway

Tell Hector I Miss Him: And I Want More

Tell Hector I Miss Him: And I Want More

Tell Hector I Miss Him

Paola Lázaro has a powerful voice. Her writing has an intensity of place and time. It flies at us in a way like no other I’ve heard on the stage recently. Her play, Tell Hector I Miss Him brings an authentic bilingual style and a sense of unique urgently to the Atlantic Theatre 2. It chronicles the day to day of a bunch of residents in a poor neighborhood in Puerto Rico, all of whom are dealing with survival, boredom, love, and lust.  In essence, this play is about sex, drugs, and salsa, as seen from a tour bus as we get to view a world we haven’t really had a chance to see before. The lives of this overly large assortment of characters criss cross in scene and scene from around this neighborhood, sometimes serious but also melodramatic ways. As directed by David Mendizábal, the overall effect is not as engaging as one would hope given the topics they cover.  The tour is too fast and too furious.  I just wanted the guide to slow down so we all have a chance to take in these vivid and eccentric characters in their quest for love, fulfillment, and survival.

Tell Hector I Miss Him

The video screens give us the beauty and serenity of ocean waves on a beach.  The view us tourists associate with Puerto Rico and want to see when we go there. It is calming, romantic, and engaging. Many of these San Juan residents though, have closed themselves off from these emotions; distancing themselves from the deeper feelings of love and engagement. There’s the odd creation of the tourist who meows (Talene Monahon) instead of speaking, which for the most part, doesn’t help us connect to her plight. And the cold young woman (an impressive piece of work by Analisa Velez) who casually uses a guy suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome (a sad but irritating portrayal by Sean Carvajal) for his drugs and money. It’s done in a sad, pathetic, detached manner, even though we see the internal conflict etched across her bored face. Others are more alive and engaged, like the brave upfront teenager (an impressive Yadira Guevara-Prip) in love/lust with the woman everyone wants (thrilled to see Dascha Polanco from OITNB doing great subtle work here). There is also the desperate-for-love drug dealer (an intense Victor Almanzar), using sex as his one and only way to connect with his overwhelming love and desire for a married woman (Selenis Leyva, wonderful and also from OITNB).

Tell Hector I Miss Him

There’s a lot going on in the streets and in the store of Mostro (Juan Carlos Hernandez), the boring and controlling husband of the cheating wife. Their complex relationship never fully develops into a real enough emotional bond to cause us to invest or try to understand.  Some of these overlapping plots do resonate, but others, like the man who messed himself up on drugs (Flaco Navaja) and the street act/trick performer (another slightly too affected and irritating portrayal by Luis Vega) who befriends him fail to connect emotionally. The one beautiful moment is when they make you understand the title of the play.  For a moment we feel their inner yearnings, desires, dreams, and regrets. But the moment passes quickly. The writing and dialogue is sometimes too fast and furious, moving past moments as if the tour doesn’t have enough time to dig deep.  This is most evident with the messed up son, and his alcoholic mother storyline (Alexander Flores/Lisa Ramirez). This story should have been much more devastating than it was in the end, but like most of these relationships, the fault lies in the exploration rather than the delivery.

This sums up the over all impact of Tell Hector I Miss Him, I wanted to dig deeper into some of these stories, and flesh them out.  I wanted to try to get a more rounded understanding of what lies underneath their stoic exterior. Much like the cold hard stone of the dense plain prison wall we stare at over the course of this two hour + play (an effective but dull design by set: Clint Ramos; costume: Dede M. Ayite; lighting: Eric Southern; sound: Jesse Mandapat), the play doesn’t sustain the whirlwind of ideas and scenarios.  Some of these story lines could have been dropped so that others could have been given more time to deepen.  The play definitely feels like it’s coming from an authentic attachment to character, location, and style.  We are seeing a world pulled from Lázaro’s experiences, but she hasn’t been able to draw us in consistently.  I wanted this Puerto Rican tour to slow down so we could engage and converse with that impressive assortment of real life residents. I wanted more.

So for more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Off Broadway
@#frontmezzjunkies

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

More in Off Broadway

Jeannie Bartel

Unhinged: Women’s Work Short Play Festival Sometimes You Discover Something Marvelous

Suzanna BowlingAugust 20, 2017
Erikka Walsh, Michael J. Farina

Come Light My Cigarette: Blown Out by Reality Before the Fire is Even Lit.

RossAugust 19, 2017
Chad Johnson, Carter Hudson, Van Gogh's Ear

Van Gogh’s Ear A Feast For The Senses

Suzanna BowlingAugust 17, 2017
DAVID SCALA

Meet The Playwrights of SummerFest: David Scala’s Sold Out Run Adds Extra Performance

Suzanna BowlingAugust 14, 2017
Joe Clancy, Erin Noll, Bill Green

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot: Henry VI Part 3

Hannah MarshAugust 14, 2017
Amerike—The Golden Land

Amerike — The Golden Land; A Soundtrack for Immigration

Suzanna BowlingAugust 13, 2017
JUSTYNA KOSTEK

Marlene Dietrich Rides Again

Suzanna BowlingAugust 9, 2017
Anabella Ronson-Beneanti

Generation Me Top Winner at NYMF

Suzanna BowlingAugust 7, 2017
Jerry's Girls

The York Theatre Production of Jerry’s Girls Is Just What The Doctor Ordered

Suzanna BowlingAugust 6, 2017