Theater review by Raven Snook
The revolution is accessorized in Notes on Killing Seven Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board Members, Mara Vélez Meléndez's absurdist drag comedy about decolonization. Lolita (Christine Carmela, a dynamo) is a proud and passionate Boriqua trans woman whose radicalized nom de guerre is inspired by Lolita Lebrón, a Puerto Rican nationalist who carried out an armed attack on the U.S. House of Representatives in 1954. Like her idol, Lolita packs a pistol to disrupt politics as usual by infiltrating the Wall Street office of PROMESA—the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act of 2016—with the aim of assassinating those in charge of restructuring the island's unpayable debt. But when she faints on arrival, clearly unready to carry out her bloody plans, a queer Nuyorican receptionist (the persona-shifting, lip-syncing diva Samora La Perdida) offers to prep her for gory glory by serving up drag incarnations of each board member to castigate and kill.
A work of adult edutainment that will send you down rabbit holes of research after the performance, Notes on Killing… is engaging, enraging and enlightening. Coproduced by Soho Rep and the Sol Project, Vélez Meléndez's play eviscerates norms of genre and gender with a piece that morphs, in the flick of a false eyelash, from agitprop to drag revue to horror show to moving portrait of self-acceptance. Director David Mendizábal overindulges his fabulously broad actors at times, but he's kitsch-perfect as a costume designer: The ensembles he's created for La Perdida are eye-popping and sidesplitting. This show is raw, overwrought and often on the verge of going off the rails. It's also ambitious, discomfitingly insightful and—in its dissection of the vicious loops of oppression, be they personal or political—as pointed as a stiletto heel.
Soho Rep (Off Broadway). By Mara Vélez Meléndez. Directed by David Mendizábal. With Christine Carmela, Samora La Perdida. Running time: 1hr 35mins. No intermission.