Basilica synopsis: A family in small-town Texas tries to hold on to its secrets in the official premiere of Mando Alvarado's drama, directed by Jerry Ruiz for Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. Jake Cannavale and Alfredo Narciso are in the cast.
Theater review by Raven Snook.
It’s refreshing to see complex Hispanic characters on stage even when they—like the play they’re in—are seriously flawed. Mando Alvarado’s extended family drama is set in the overwhelmingly Latino border town of San Juan, Texas, best known as the home of a massive Catholic church. Its presence looms over the struggling residents who seem to fall into two camps: the God-fearing and the devil-may-care.
The Garzas encompass both. Churchgoing matriarch Lela (Selenis Leyva) wants her disappointed-by-life husband Joe (Felix Solis—the broken heart and soul of the show) to quit drinking and be a more stable presence in the lives of their children: tweenage Jessica (Yadira Guevara-Prip), who tries on different religions like outfits, and Ray (Jake Cannavale, son of Tony nominated actor Bobby), an artistic outcast desperate to go away to college in Chicago. When long-lost bad boy Gilbert (Alfredo Narciso) returns to town as the new priest, he kicks up the kind of family secrets that power your average Lifetime movie.
The actors, many vets of the lauded Labyrinth Theater Company, commit themselves to the text as if it were Gospel, but it’s not. The twists are telegraphed, the turns trite, and in many ways it’s reminiscent of David Lindsay-Abaire’s superior Good People, which also explored issues of class, martyrdom, morality and hypocrisy. The characters may not be black-and-white but the plot is strictly paint by numbers.—Theater review by Raven Snook