Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Phoenix New Times - Culture Blog

It took attending Learn to Be Latina with a very smart date (who often consumes journalism the day it appears) for Curtains to hear that not everyone thinks the latest from Stray Cat Theatre is about identity politics in any serious, up-to-the-minute way. In fact, this script, Stray Cat's production, and playwright Enrique Urueta do have pantloads of the bona fides to be part of our national dialogue on this stuff.

Let's just start with the reason that persons under 17 aren't admitted to the show (which is hysterically frantic, sexay, and entertaining, even if you don't find it sufficiently meaningful) without an adult guardian.

And let's assume the existence of that reason is not, like throwing in Jan Brewer's name whenever possible, a canny audience-grabber that arguably only briefly flirts with real-world relevance.

Let's say you've just seen Act I of what press materials astutely describe as a "post-9/11 race farce/lesbian romantic comedy (with dance breaks)." Intermission begins. You've already journeyed to the world of pop celebrity, which is not Arizona and is instead a place where being Middle Eastern in 21st-century America can be considered worse (in a cost/benefit kind of way) than being Latina. It's only California, though -- so being queer might be marginally better for a celebrity than being ethnically undesirable, but only if you're white.

​You have by now, perhaps, seen the reason minors can't just wander in off the street and catch the show. But perhaps you haven't yet. And maybe at that moment, you notice that certain "inappropriate" things are seen by The Man as even more offensive when a woman or a gay person does them. You wonder just what we're trying to protect our children from.

You'll also find plenty in the rapid-fire speeches of "ethnic consultant" Mary O'Malley, PhD (played by the always watchable Johanna Carlisle), to both expand and challenge your hardcore politicocultural Weltanschauung.

I adore Wrara Plesoiu's flashy, flexible scenic design and Doug Loynd's costumes, which are thoughtful, detailed, flattering, and recede and stand out at the appropriate times...