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'Tortilla Curtain' bisects intersecting lives of cross-border characters Maria Patrice Amon | Fri, Apr 06 2012 01:22 PM

The San Diego Rep’s newest production, “Tortilla Curtain,” is a world-premiere adaptation of T.C. Boyle’s best-selling 1995 novel. Mathew Spangler’s adaptation stays close to the plot of the novel but misses the novel’s searing critique of cultural conflicts through the heavy use of exaggerated satirical humor and awkward direct-to-audience narration.

The play is the story of the intersecting lives of a pair of Mexican immigrants, Cándido and América Rincón, and a pair of upper-class white Americans, Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher. Delaney hits Cándido with his car and then pays Cándido $20 and drives away. From that point, the couples’ lives parallel and threaten to reconnect until Mother Nature brings them together in a moment of universal powerlessness.

The novel is a relentless onslaught of devastation inflicted on Cándido and América set in contrast to banal discomforts experienced by Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher; however, the play is hesitant to force the character of Delaney to fully inhabit the severe racism that the novel’s character develops.

The humor of the play strikes a discordant tone in its over-use of caricature. Understandably, the source material is bleak — a woman is raped, a man is beat, a baby dies — but the hip-hop music video fantasy América has thinking of her future in the United States feels forced in the context of the material.

The staging of the play is unique and innovative. It is the representation of the point where nature touches civilization, a border that reflects the themes of the play. The use of video projections at the start of the show is smart and visually interesting.

“Tortilla Curtain” is playing now through Sunday, April 8, at the Lyceum stage in Horton Plaza, downtown San Diego. Shows are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $32 to $51 with $18 student discount tickets and are available at the Lyceum Theatre box office by calling 544-1000 or online at www.sdrep.org.

‘Grease’ is the word at OnStage Playhouse

Because of contractual agreements, OnStage Playhouse, Chula Vista’s intimate downtown community theater, could not release the name of its upcoming production, slated April 27 to May 26. Well, the word is now out.

It is — perhaps to no one’s surprise — “Grease.”

Because of increased costs dealing with putting on a musical production (mainly due to higher royalties), OnStage is seeking sponsorship for the show. 

Patrons may sponsor the entire show, an actor, production member or live band. Donors will receive complimentary tickets to the show, acknowledgement at the opening night reception and recognition in the printed program.

Contact Betsy Keller 876-9932 or e-mail bkeller@frontporch.net for sponsorship opportunities.

Upcoming productions
 “Incorruptible: by Michael Hollinger (June 22 to July 21)

Welcome to Priseaux, France, c. 1250 A.D. The river flooded again last week. The chandler’s shop just burned to the ground. Nobody’s heard of the wheelbarrow yet. And Ste. Foy, the patron of the local monastery, hasn’t worked a miracle in 13 years. In other words, the Dark Ages still look pretty dark. All eyes turn to the Pope, whose promised visit will surely encourage other pilgrims to make the trek and restore the abbey to its former glory. That is, until a rival church claims to possess the relics of Ste. Foy —  and “their” bones are working miracles. All seems lost until the destitute monks take a lesson from a larcenous one-eyed minstrel, who teaches them an outrageous new way to pay old debts.

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