Nicas | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Nicas 

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Nicas, Pinolero Productions, at Stage Left Theatre. Latino theater artists are underrepresented in Chicago, with only Teatro Vista regularly producing work from that perspective. So though Pinolero Productions' inaugural effort has some distinct flaws, it does hold out the welcome promise of new voices.

Jorge Aviles's play takes place in Nicaragua in 1998. The formerly wealthy Castro family have come together to bury their patriarch--and in the process uncover old secrets. The device is admittedly hoary, and Aviles falls into the inexperienced playwright's trap of having characters reveal information to one another that's intended to benefit the audience (presumably family members would know that a sister has suffered from epilepsy since she was in her early 20s). There are structural flaws and occasional stiff performances, but the show also boasts some very affecting, funny moments. Aviles skillfully captures the resentments and fears of those family members who suffered through revolution and economic disaster in Managua while their siblings built lives in Miami. And anyone who's seen the bad behavior that funerals can bring out in families will relate to the outbursts on display here.

Occasionally the dialogue recalls Latin American novelas, but even soap operas can contain kernels of truth. The bright, flowery palette of Michael Moorman's eye-catching set and Heather Hill's costumes serves as ironic counterpoint to the grim underpinnings of family life.

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