Tuesday, September 19, 2017

FIXED! a new play at The Echo

               Allen Lucky Weaver, Chris Aguila
         and Tonatiuh Elizarraraz
           Photo by Darrett Sanders
 Echo Theatre Company's World Premiere of playwright Boni B. Alvarez's FIXED under the direction of Rodney To is cinematic in scope and leans heavily on the mosaic ethnic cultures of Los Angeles.  It carries us from 'lady boys' in a Filipinotown massage parlor: unrequited love: exposing a story teetering on shame and at the same time an important political election.  

Los Angeles has hosted transgendered beauty pageants for many years.  Emperess LaRay's annual Queen of the Universe Pageants at the Mayflower Ballroom paralleled the East Coast subculture of Houses of Beauty Pageants as witnessed in the 1991 film Paris Is Burning.  That film defined the sub-culture in New York City as did The Queen, an early cult classic that nudged drag and drag queen beauty pageants into the spotlight. FIXED brings a tough, no nonsense approach to the Los Angeles scene. Rivalries, evidently, are fierce.

Alvarez, has written a plum part for himself as Gigi, the owner of the House of Malacanang, a massage parlor that features the talents of masseuses who also 'walk' in pageants representing Gigi's House. Bursting in on his first entrance, Alvarez embodies the complaint that his character later rails on about: too much drama!  Gigi is a  strict martinet whose over the top ambitions are all about winning trophies and controlling his 'girls.'  

Curtain up on Gigi's FilipinoTown massage parlor where we meet Miracles (Chris Aguila), Jenny (Alan Lucky Weaver) and Carmie (Tonatiuh Elizarraaz), Filipino "lady boys" preparing for an upcoming drag beauty pageant.  Loud and insistent technopop music sets the mood.

Momentarily, Alvarez whisks us across town to Echo Park where Dana  (Renee-Marie Brewster)
Joseph Valdez and Renée-Marie Brewster
Photo by Darrett Sanders
  is currently  campaign manager for her husband Hudson (Joseph Valdez), a Los Angeles under sheriff, who has a serious shot at being elected Sheriff of Los Angeles County.  AJ (Adrian Gonzalez) is on board and attempts to help rein in Hudson's wild brother, Mariano
(Wade-Allain Marcus)

When Mariano, with  slip shod social skills, is exposed regarding  his dalliance with  Miracles by over the top Latin bombshell, Lizette (Anna Lamadrid), also nuts about Mariano, in spite of AJ's doing his best to let her know that he cares truly for her, it threatens Hudson's campaign for sheriff. The plot though already somewhat burdened, becomes more of a problem than expected.  Miracles is madly in love with Mariano, thinking that having 'the operation' will "fix" everything and they can live happily ever after.  Immature and denied a psychological sign off by her doctor to move forward with a full transition, Miracles is obsessed by the idea and longs for the operation, in spite of derision and the strong advice of her colleagues. Vernacular that embraces the term "trans" comes into play with the others understanding that they are males who crossdress and may even live as women, but would never consider themselves 'trans.'  The argument of self diagnosis and immaturity regarding being trapped in the wrong body is never fully discussed.

Oddly, the casting of Aguila as the beauty of the story seems to be a part that Weaver might have played differently.  The term 'fish' is used to delineate who is most feminine and though each of the actors attains a degree of femininity, Weaver's Jenny seemed very comfortable in her own skin. Her religious devotion has moments of comic relief that are welcome.

The story cross cuts from one location to the next with  questions as to why Mariano can't admit his true character and whether or not Miracles will ever be enough for him, or any man as long as she remains a boy.  A gratuitous sex scene leaves Miracles having been taken advantage of as Mariano seduces her by coming to the massage parlor just for a 'massage.' 

Heavy vernacular and high drama keep us guessing. Rodney To's  direction  is spotty with actors often finding their own way to all being on the same page at the same time. 

FIXED by Boni B. Alvarez 
A World Premiere
Directed by Rodney To
The Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Sept. 15 through Oct. 22, 2017
Fridays at 8:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 8:30 p.m.
Sundays at 4 p.m.
Mondays at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets and Information: 

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