Through December 18
- Thurs, Fri, Sat 8 p.m.
- Sun 2 & 7 p.m.
- Mon (Nov 28 & Dec 5) 8 p.m.
Keep your skin thick, relax and have fun at Diversionary’s latest
by Cuauhtémoc Kish | Theater Review
Enrique Urueta’s “Learn To Be Latina,” playing at Diversionary Theatre through December 18, is a scathing, crude, comedic romp that has the potential to offend just about everyone. That is, until you hear the playwright’s intended words within this satire about gender, race and identity.
At the core, there is the message that everyone is willing to sell-out to corporate America if personal profit and fame dangle from an orchestrated carrot stick. No matter who you are, you must be molded into an ethnical vision of what will sell.
“Learn to Be Latina” has a talented, Lebanese pop singer named Hanan, played by Tamara Dhia, accept a singing contract in an attempt to be the next J Lo. Not only is she willing to mask her heritage, but she’s also willing to deny she has a lesbian vibe permeating her universe.
There’s not one in the audience who can’t guess the outcome of this story but it’s the kooky journey that matters, allowing most audiences to feel uncomfortable, perhaps even outraged, and then, hopefully, to laugh out loud.
Amanda Cooley Davis, Dangerfield G. Moore, and Steve Smith make up the Corporate Advisory Panel of stooges (playing Jill, Bill, and Will, respectively) who assist Mary O’Malley (played by Faeren Adams). O’Malley is an ethnic consultant with a lot of personal baggage and a sock puppet called Calcetina, who, naturally, speaks perfect Spanish. As part of FAD (Funky Artist Development) Records, the group develops and promotes Hanan—including rushing her through Latina Boot Camp—until she passes the test for Latina marketability.
Let there be no mistake that this blistering production is politically incorrect. It’s lewd and crude. The irreverent epithets are hurled at you with the velocity of Jane Lynch on speed.
It’s a cultural bash, heavy on refried beans and tacos.
The chronic suggestions of gay and lesbian sex are non-stop and intentionally offensive. The hand-sock puppetry provides another voice that’s not only in your face but also buried in someone’s crotch.
The entire cast is competent, but Adams is a marvel as the non-stop, hold-no-prisoners, insult-laden machine.
Olivia Espinosa plays the part of Blanca, who is referred to as the “Office Bitch.” She’s the only cool head in the group and the one who provides any sane argument concerning lesbian romance with her new gal pal, Hanán.
Davis, Moore, and Smith move through the vocal circus, as well as the entertaining choreography of Anna Sarao, with little time to catch a breath.
Raquel Barreto in costume design provides an appropriate Latina pop-star look for Hanán, as well as matching corporate outfits for the misfits. Matt Scott’s scenic design allows for multiple mutations that assist the production, while Luke Olson is credited for the video projections. Isis Saratial Misdary, the previous director, left the production prior to the opening. Jessica Bird is the Associate Director.
If you are thick-skinned enough for this production you will have a great time. I caution audience members to sit back, take the blows, shutter a bit, and not to pay too much serious attention to the ethnic bashing. Urueta’s intention is just to have fun. Period.