Credit: Sebastián Hidalgo

First produced last fall at the Free Street Storyfront space in Back of the
Yards, this remarkable revival chronicles, in a series of short, sweet
scenes and heartfelt monologues, the loves and likes of various Chicago
Chicanos: an uncloseted gay man who defies his father’s homophobia, a
daring tagger yearning for his place in history, a teenager at once amused
and appalled by the preparations for her quinceañera (the most humiliating
moment must be when her abuela insists she enhance the bustline of her
dress with Perdue frozen chicken breast fillets), and a late-middle-aged
father coping with alcoholism and anger issues.

In less capable hands these characters could have become mere cartoons or,
worse, romanticized agitprop characters, but native south-sider Ricardo
Gamboa, who wrote the show and codirected it with Ana Velazquez, has the
clear eye of a gifted comic writer. Given the chance, Gamboa prefers to
create interesting, flawed human beings who make us cringe one minute and
win us over the next, only to make us cringe again. (This will come as no
surprise to fans of Gamboa’s witty webseries Brujos.) The intimacy
of the performing space certainly helps, but only because the show’s
six-member ensemble, all of but one of whom appeared in the 2017 version,
know how to play to an audience only a few feet—or in some scenes, a few
inches—away. Keren Díaz de León and Elizabeth Nungaray are particularly
adept at communicating volumes with small gestures or slight changes of
expression.   v