!Veracruz!–Cirque de Salsation, !Salsation!, at Teatro Luna. In scenes addressing white privilege, the California election results, underfunding of Chicago schools, cultural appropriation, and the importance of embracing one’s heritage, this Latino ensemble aims to be political and timely. However, their sometimes sharp insights are buried within sketches too keen on easy laughs. Surprisingly, the ensemble includes a wide range of stereotypes, of Latinos and others, not to explode them but to exploit them in quick punch lines.
Directed by Ed Garza and written and performed by a cast of eight, the show features rapid transitions and reveals some true originality. Among the highlights are recurring scenes about a corn vendor looking for love, a sketch showing the seedy underworld behind his business, and another depicting a new target in the war on terrorism, uncovered by a Keystone Kops-like FBI. These well-thought-out scenes are hilarious, but the rest need editing and more pointed and ambitious wit. The cast simply haven’t pushed their ideas far enough to make them fresh. Instead we find comedy built around Harry Potter or Silence of the Lambs, hear poor attempts at various accents, and take in a dull showcase of types rather than characters.
A few punch lines in Spanish can be understood through the context but aren’t as funny if you don’t speak the language. And the laughs are already unfortunately few.