Playwright: Guillermo Reyes. At: Pride Films & Plays at the Apollo Studio, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: 773-935-6100; www.ticketmaster.com; $20-$25. Runs through: July 26
Whether you trace the origins of the format to Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia in 1985 or John Leguizamo's Mambo Mouth in 1990, it was still inevitable that the gay male Latino immigrant experience would soon prove the subject of a solo show. In 1994, Chilean-born Guillermo Reyes addressed this insufficiency with his gallery of nine monologues, each representing a different aspect of the demographic collectively labeled "Hispanic."
Among the personae we meet over the 75 minutes of this Pride Films and Plays production are an aging boy-toy forced to reconnect with his former peers after being abandoned by his protector, as well as a pathetically repressed son of a torture-squad war criminal haunted by his paternal legacy. Differing responses to assimilation are illustrated by a smug ESL instructor who sneers at his less English-fluent pupils to conceal his fear of slipping into his own native tongue, along with a carefully WASP-ified Hollywood actor who must re-adopt his ethnic identity in order to secure a coveted role.
The text's vintage is apparent in a passing reference to Japan's economic threat, and also in an obligatory drag turn departing from romantic-diva cliches only in its flamenco motifs and invocation of AIDS for its fatal contagion. Losing none of its timeliness, however, is the caution advised by the owner of Phoenix's sole Cuban restaurant, who recounts how he was first imprisoned as a deviant under Castro's government, then later ordered by his Miami relatives to seek his fortune in some far-away hinterland.
Framing these portraits is the saga of naive Federico, who arrives in Los Angeles during the 1992 riots ( which he initially mistakes for a film shoot ) and proceeds to survive a number of setbacks and misunderstandings before ending up cheerfully settled into a double marriage-of-convenience with his Streisand-loving Kentucky-bred steady and a pair of enterprising lesbians. "I'm staying!" he shouts defiantly at the cars on the freeway where he peddles oranges, "Get used to it!"
Whatever the documentary value of Reyes' time capsule in 2015, there is no denying the showcase it provides for the talents of company regular Nelson Rodriguez. Under the unhurried direction of Sandra Marquez and pinpoint-accurate dialect instruction of Sammi Grant, Rodriguez's impressive vocal range and body language conjure distinctive, vividly etched personalities that never spill into caricature. He does his own scene and costume changes, too, dance-choreographed to gay anthems of the period. How can you resist that?