There's a lot of anger in Teatro Luna's 75-minute program of monologues by four writer-performers--balanced by a lot of humor. The comedy might be bitter and black or gentle and forgiving, but even the darkest of these pieces made me laugh. The most challenging is the only one that's not explicitly autobiographical: in To Red Stick, Tanya Saracho plays a well-educated Latina who makes a disturbing discovery about her husband. The character's combination of privilege and hostility--she hates her children, her maid, the academics who surround her, the Boston weather--makes her pretty unsympathetic and the piece emotionally monotonous. Yet near the end Saracho somehow effects a sea change that draws us to this unlikable woman. Miranda Gonzalez's Que Bonita Bandera is the simplest, a charmingly straightforward story about a young woman who discovers an unwelcome heritage and loses a cherished one. And the best constructed and most expertly performed is Marisabel Suarez's Three Days, which goes around in a narrative circle--but takes a giant step forward in understanding. (Suarez's portrayal of her 81-year-old grandmother, who likes to go out dancing, is priceless.) The piece that really spoke to my heart, however, was Diane Herrera's The Dress. A self-described big ol' ho, Herrera is an unmarried 30-year-old from a culture that believes a woman should have a husband at 20 and her first child at 21. Despite its cultural specificity, Herrera's poetic script ("I wear my hangover like a mink coat in 100-degree weather") and honest, vulnerable performance convey the sadness everyone feels when a dream is gone forever. And perhaps because of that sadness, even bitterness, The Dress is also excruciatingly funny. Through 2/13: Fri-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago, 773-878-5862, $10-$15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Johnny Knight.