Mondo Edwardo | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Mondo Edwardo 

Live Bait Theater

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MONDO EDWARDO, Live Bait Theater. Mondo Edwardo is really two shows: Mondo, an overwritten six-character fantasy trip around the world with Edward Thomas-Herrera, and Edwardo, a warm, no-frills, autobiographical solo show about a likable bright gay man, born Catholic, raised in (God help him) Texas by an Anglo father and a Latina mother, who suffers at the hands of various homophobes (parish priests, close-minded therapists) before finding himself in Chicago. I think my preference is showing.

In Mondo Thomas-Herrera "travels" from one exotic place to another, visiting the famous and the fabulous (among them Isak Dinesen and Coco Chanel), striking poses, and engaging in idle, sometimes brittle chitchat--and we just don't care. The scenes seem forced, the characters flat, the dialogue too desperate to be hip, despite some truly great one-liners--"I'm a bit woozy from all this clever, bitchy dialogue"--and a fine supporting cast, including the always marvelous Susan McLaughlin.

The Edwardo sections of the show focus on Thomas-Herrera's real life. He meets no famous people, engages in no Cowardy conversations, lives the desperate self-loathing life all too many sensitive, talented, unathletic men must endure in antiart, antiintellectual America. This story feels true, and Thomas-Herrera seems more relaxed telling it. Which makes me wonder why he wandered the world looking for his heart when it could be found in his own backyard.

--Jack Helbig

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