“Corner of Hacienda” by resident playwright Ernie Curcio made its debut on Friday February 14th at Cockroach Theatre. I was able to make the second performance.
Director Bryan Todd brought out both hilarity and sensitivity in his well rounded, diverse cast. The set design by Chad Burn was one of the most elaborate sets I have seen while watching a play in Las Vegas. Because of how close we were I felt as though we were looking through a window into these people lives or a fly on the wall in their living room. The colors and style reminded me of the old Las Vegas homes you would find while riding down Alta Drive. I enjoyed the mix of references between Las Vegas and New York since they are the only two places I have lived in my life. The lighting by Josh Lentner and Elizabeth Kline gave the set a nice and genuine home style feel. The old style clothing by costume designer April Teixeira that had been the grandmothers and the Nirvana T-shirt worn by Brandon Alan MClenahan gave me deja vu all the way back to High School.
The play is set in 1994. The story centers around the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner at the house of Francis (played by Brandon Alan MClenahan) and Elliot (played by Ryan Reason) who are two brothers struggling not only with paying the bills but also the death of their grandmother. From the start of the play the brothers begin fighting which sets a tone for the night. I could feel the tension within these two characters. Francis is a quiet, nice person who is outwardly hurting from the death in his family. His grandmothers robe that he never takes off seems to be like a security blanket that he could hide behind. I could relate to his introverted sometimes awkward behavior. He was definitely a character I could get behind and root for in the end. Elliot seems to mask his pain and go off into another almost thug-like direction. Ryan Reason plays his character as an angry realist convincingly.
The two brothers are having company over for this holiday dinner. Aunt Carol (played by Kim Glover) and politically incorrect uncle Bilp (played by Scott McAdam) comes to dinner with their daughter Penny (played by Mikey Phillips.) Scott McAdam played Bilp unintelligent and with ignorance that was perfect for the character. His attempt at redemption was one of the more comforting moments in the play. Mikey Phillips played the role of a disenchanted teenager well. You could feel the resentment toward her mother. Kim Glover gave a very real and intense performance. I could feel her struggle by the look in her eyes and the sound of her voice. An argument between Aunt Carol and Elliot was very powerful. While watching Kim Glover I felt she was very vulnerable, she wanted to do well and thought she had for the most part.
A friend of Elliot’s Carlitos (played by Jason Nino) works well with Bilp to cause more drama. A fight between the two was one of the more hostile moments. Carlitos has a likeable charm that makes you want good things for him. A hippy like young woman Tuzza (played by Felicia Taylor) has come to the dinner because her grandfather, a friend of the family also died. While watching Taylor I got the impression that not only was she a free spirit but she had a strong desire to belong. She wanted to know about mama. It may have been due to the loss she just experienced. She seemed to feel comfortable in the house. Even though the relationship between Tuzza and Francis at the beginning was embarrassingly hard to watch because you could tell how they felt about one another, I enjoyed watching their relationship unfold. A drug induced hallucination brings mama (played by Maria Militair) into the house as a voice of reason. I was skeptical when she entered the house. However, she brought many laughs and a tough New York presence.
This play is running Thursdays through Saturdays at 8p.m and Sundays at 2p.m. until March 2nd. Tickets are available at http://www.cockroachtheatre.com