KPBS AIRDATE: September 22, 1993
Imagine, if you will, a Chicano Robin Williams — in triplicate — and you’ll begin to get a feel for the ultra-high-speed, zany triumvirate known as Culture Clash. The comedy troupe has brought a revised version of their 1988 piece, “The Mission,” to the La Jolla Playhouse, and you’ll definitely want to make a pilgrimage.
The gripes in this political comedy are as old as Father Junipero Serra, whom the trio skewer regularly. (“If they canonize him,” the group says, “they ought to do it with gunpowder”).
Hollywood and performing arts organizations should be flogged for their treatment of Latinos. The Wholly Hilarious Trinity –Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and the incredible chameleon Herbert Siguenza — play themselves: three actors trying to get work in L.A., relegated to playing human tacos, mincing friars, and moronic Mexicanos. They rebel against the Establishment, against the “grant whores,” against their own half-toasted Wonder Bread confreres: with one “stiff brown side and one mushy white side.”
This is the same turf that was trod recently by Latins Anonymous at the San Diego Rep. But this production is much wilder, faster and funnier. It’s not a big-theater stage play, and should be in a small, intimate club. But the set is beautiful and these guys are hilarious. They’re so busy busting icons, you’d better listen up and duck. When funny-lines are coming at you at this frenetic pace, it’s a sure bet that some of their poison-tipped darts will be hysterically on-target.
Downtown this week, more serious but no less poison-tipped, is “Love Stinks” at the new Fritz Theatre performance space on the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter. In her latest world premiere, local playwright Karin Williams is merciless: both her male and female characters are pretty awful. And the relationships in these two one-acts are, as Daffy Duck used to say, “desssspicable.”
In the first piece, “Room,” Bryan Bevell is wonderful as a wide-eyed imbecile with raging hormones, though there’s little sexual chemistry between him and the object of his lust, Kristin Prewitt, or between Prewitt and Ed Vogel, who plays three devil-worshipping accountants looking to rent a room. The piece is awfully repetitive, though it has moments, but it’s generally lackluster, and trails off at the end.
But in “Susan, Katrina and Jill,” everything clicks. Not the relationships, mind you. But the play, the director and the dynamic, unsettling cast: Carey Scott as the obsessive, tormented Ray, and Chrissy Vogele as the three women in his life. This is a very sexual piece, and the sparks fly between the characters, thanks to Scott, Vogele and director Duane Daniels.
The new Fritz storefront space is highly reminiscent of the old one, but brick walls replace the black ones, and there are twice as many seats. But the Fritz continues to titillate. Resident playwright Karin Williams, a much stronger writer than director, is clearly someone to listen to — though not necessarily for relationship advice.
I’m Pat Launer, for KPBS radio.
©1993 Patté Productions Inc.