WINDY CITY TIMES
My Mañana Comes
by Mary Shen Barnidge
This article shared 1552 times since Wed Oct 21, 2015
Playwright: Elizabeth Irwin. At: Teatro Vista at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: 773-871-3000; www.teatrovista.org; $25-$30. Runs through: Nov. 8 .
We know, because the playbill tells us, that we are in the prep room of a swanky midtown-Manhattan restaurant ( 66th and Madison, to be exact ) where the bussers fold napkins, polish silverware, fill bread baskets, chop herbs and slice fruit. Since the four men who toil therein discuss their personal business with the intimacy born of male bonding, we also soon know their backstories, their hopes and their aspirations. What we don't know is that we are about to get a lesson in the inhumane ethical compromises that trickle-down economics engender.
A word of explanation may be in order for playgoers whose dining-out experience is limited to reading menus: "Busboys" ( as they were once called ) rank above dishwashers, but below waiters. Their most visible front-of-house activity is clearing away used dishes, topping up water glasses and attending to tableside chores not involving actual handling of food. In New York City, they are legally entitled to "shift pay" in addition to a share of the gratuities left by customersmeaning that as long as they report for duty at their assigned hour, they are paid for their contracted time, even if business turns out to be slow.
This guaranteed income, however minimal, is what provides African-American Peter the wherewithal to be a fully participating husband and father, and Brooklyn-dwelling Whalin to pursue certification as a paramedic. It enables immigrant Jorje to pay for a house in Mexico where he hopes to reunite with his family someday, and newly arrived Pepe to exult over his good fortune in this new land of opportunity. When management threatens to eliminate this policy, though, differing opinions over what recourse to adopt forces the comrades to make hard decisions affecting the futures of them all.
Elizabeth Irwin's dialogue exhibits a familiarity with her milieu that locates us immediately within our environment, as does the culinary expertise demonstrated by the actors in this Teatro Vista Chicago premiere production. Under the direction of Sandra Marquez, the quartet of Jonathan Nieves, Victor Marana, Dennis Garcia and Cameron Knight generates a comfortable camaraderie that lulls us into thinking that our play will be a celebration of the rewards granted those who exercise industry and patience, not a Darwinian bunker-drama rendered all the more grim for its humble setting, where the self-serving values practiced so cavalierly in the upper echelons of our society become likewise embraced in the lower ranksalbeit not without great reluctance and persistent regrets.
This article shared 1552 times since Wed Oct 21, 2015
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