Color Tvs En Tijuana
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
June 22, 2012
“Nobody stays dead in Tijuana” says a one-eyed TV salesman in a voice so gruff it could saw wood. Indeed, the living and dead should take heed of Aztec Economy’s incantations in their bizarre new show that explores modern ritualism in seedy hotel room in Tijuana.
Divided into seven scenes with seven actors weaving through seven TVs on a narrow stage that has a coffin as its centerpiece the show begins with the TV salesman slowly delivering a monologue, stretching out each word as if it were his last, while Ted Duffy, who may or may not be an undercover narcotics agent, stoically stands there saying nothing. The next scene explodes with movement, music and eye candy when a young woman named Maria rises from the coffin and dances. She meets Duffy in her room where he is watching porn and proceeds to rough her up until he accidentally strangles her to death. Maria was trying to tell him about her dream to cross the border, or the “line” as she insists they call it. Her landlord is also a “coyote,” a person who brings people across the line, and she had promised to take her. One of Maria’s lovers was a renowned cartel member. He shows up only to discover that Duffy has killed Maria. He overtakes Duffy and ties him up to, presumably, torture him but his sore tooth prevents him from proceeding. However, in Tijuana, that’s a not a problem. Enter the traveling dentist with his pliers and tank of gas and the next thing you know that old sore tooth is on the floor. From there we meet the landlord/coyote who is obsessed with betting on the dog races and a dead piñata artist whose craft was the subject of a documentary.
Playwright Casey Wimpee and director Cole Wimpee do a fine job exploring our desire to cross lines, whether they are between countries or realms of consciousness. The script is monologue-heavy and most of them are powerful and evocative in that they are abstractions of a harsh modern life juxtaposed with Mexican Catholic ritualism and Aztec mythology. I found myself completely immersed in the strange and brutal world of the play. The video installations, courtesy of Kalli Newman, are crude and yet compelling. The scene with the piñata artist was lost on me because I couldn’t really see or hear the TVs but what I did catch was well shot. I really enjoyed the close up on Maria, covered in ritualistic face paint, where she is breaking down her cartel lover by listing all of the people he has killed and the manner in which he killed them.
The cast is fantastic. There is no program for the show so I don’t know who played whom but the young lady who played Maria is outstanding. I also enjoyed the performance from the actor playing the cartel member. The entire ensemble is exceedingly dedicated to the material. The individual performances all contribute to making the show work.
I can’t say that this show is for everyone. The postmodern vagueness and strange invocations of rituals and myths may be lost on some. However, I found that I was taken in by the words, the performances and the visuals. The show is like an art film played out live with passion and devotion. Aztec Economy is not afraid of taking risks and this show is worth risking an evening on.