Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

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Bay Area Premiere of “My Mañana Comes” at MTC

Bay Area Premiere of My Mañana Comes at MTC

Marin Theatre Compay continues its 49th Season with the Bay Area Premiere of Playwright Elizabeth Irwin’s My Mañana Comes, a rich and poinant play, shining a realistic spotlight on serving in a fine dining restaurant.  In this play, which is a series of vignettes with projected supertitles above the stage, we meet in the kitchen of an upper west-side Manhanttan French restaurant with four busboys who learn the hard way when a slow summer season leads to harsh paycuts – jeopardizing their plans, their dignity, and their comaraderie.  According to Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis, “Elizabeth Irwin is an important new voice in the American theater.  She has crafted an urgent new play about the illusivesness of  American dream for young workers attempting to make ends meet for their families.  As our national debate intensifies around immigration and undocumented workers, My Mañana Comes is a cry for compassion.”

Elizabeth Irwin’s engrossing and thoughtful My Mañana Comes is directed by Kirsten Brandt, also an award-winning playright and director, making her MTC debut. This play follows four runners during one summer’s brunches and dinners. The assured Peter (Shaun Patrick Tubbs) is Harlem bred; the brash Whalid (Caleb Cabrera)is Brooklyn born; while the focused Jorge (Eric Avilés) and the flummoxed Pepe (Carlos Jose Gonzalez Morales) are the undocumented workers.  MTC_MMC_Cabrera_Morales_LoRes

At first, the play seems merely anthropological – detailing the morals and morés of those at the bottom of the food industry.  Having worked together for months and years, these men have formed an edgy comaraderie – ribbing one another but also covering for each other when Court dates and family responsibilities interfere with work. They’ve even adopted their own slang interaction.

But as the summer wears on, and management begins withholding pay,and structure comes, conflicts build, and Ms. Irwin’s larger concerns come into sharper focus.  Each of the men handle these money woes differently, signaling their attitudes about working, spending, saving, and living (or trying to live) on the pay they receive.

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Sometimes Elizabeth Irwin stresses these themes too blatantly in repetition through a series of unnecessary monologues – but more often she lets her characters express themselves in their own ways and words (often profane).  She allows them a touch of philosophy, too, as when Peter counsels Jorge, who swallows the boss’ disrespect as he dreams of a better future.

MTC_MMC_Cabrera_Aviles_Morales_Tubbs_LoResDirector Kirsten Brandt, Lighting Designer David Lee Cuthbert, Costume Designer Brandin Barón, and Scenic Designer Sean Fanning’s wonderfully realistic kitchen set – all plunge you deep into the men’s world and their routines.

Ms. Brandt might have more carefully choreographed the moments betweeen scenes, but she and her actors create a convincing, plausible work space.   All the performers are superb, but Shaun Patrick Tubbs, an actor from Texas is a show-stopper.  The play never properly explains why a man, as smart and charming as Peter would be content doing backroom prep, but Mr. Tubbs makes us trust and support him all  the way.

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My Mañana Comes is a character study with a political edge – honed nearly as sharp as the men’s paring knives. This critic doubts many audience members will step out to dinner afterward without wondering who folded their napkins and if they were paid a living wage. This is real life!

 My Mañana Comes began October 29th and will run through November 22nd at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays 7:30pm; Matinees 2:00 pm: Saturday, November 21, and Sundays, November 15 and 22. For tickets, contact Marin Theatre Company at 415-388-5208, or purchase online at boxoffice@marintheatre.org.

Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Coming up next at Marin Theatre Company, will be August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean from January 14 through February 14, 2016.

Flora Lynn Isaacson