Latinologues and Salsation! | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Latinologues and Salsation! 

Every year the networks roll out their bland knockoffs of last year's hits, ignoring much of our rich cultural landscape. I suppose that leaves more of the American pie for theater, but most companies take the safe route and neglect this opportunity. Which is why we need more people like Rick Najera, who knows there's more to the world than the bleached, pasteurized version of it in Dawson's Creek and Felicity. A writer for the early-90s variety show In Living Color, Najera has the wicked eye of a good trickster; in Latinologues, an evening of comic sketches and monologues, he sets up one Latino type after another--the obsequious busboy, the oversexed Latina, the anglicized Hispanic in a position of power--and reveals the person behind it. The busboy turns out to be a veteran of Menudo (their manager ran with the profits); the hot Latina is starved for affection. In the process Najera leaves no flaw unrevealed, no personal contradiction unexplored. And his team of crack comic actors, led by Jacob Vargas and Paul Vato, are as willing to push beyond the narrow confines of cultural and showbiz stereotypes as he is. On the bill with Latinologues is the local comedy troupe ÁSalsation!, a young company made up mostly of veterans of Chicago's mostly white, mostly male, mostly terribly middle-class improv comedy scene. They deconstruct Chicago's Latino culture the way Najera deconstructs LA's. Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt, 630-363-8286 or 312-559-1212. November 18 through 20: Thursday, 8 PM; Friday-Saturday, 9 PM. $20.

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