REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams


By Jose Riverabrainpeople by jose rivera at urban theatre chicago

Directed by Marti Lyons

Produced by Urban Theater Company

At The Batey Urbano, Chicago

“If she’s serving us people, I’m not staying.” – Ani from Brainpeople

“Nothing on earth can scare you like another human being.” -Mayannah from brainpeople

Provocatively weird and mysterious Brainpeople is an engrossing work

Jose Rivera  is a talented playwright whose works are  being mounted here in Chicago. His latest, Brainpeople, is a psychological thriller filled with religious references and demented characters.  The drama features in depth studies of the psyche of  a dinner host and her two guests. This work has superb descriptive dialogue that gives each of the three female characters their opportunity to explain why they are at the dinner party and why they agreed to participate.

brainpeople by jose rivera at urban theatre chicago

Mayannah (Marilyn Camacho) lives in a high-rise apartment adorned with a collection of crucifixes and religious paintings depicting the death of Christ.  She is dressed in black and seems melancholy.  She invites two eccentric women to join her for her once-a-year celebratory dinner feast. Since the city, L.A. in the near future is torn by riots and aggressive police, is so unstable, Mayannah send an a limo to pickup each guest. Both guests will receive $20,000 if and when they finish their meal with Mayannah. Neither are too clear on the dark purpose of the meal.

brainpeople by jose rivera at urban theatre chicago

The psychologically damaged guests include Rosemary (Amanda Powell) – in possession of many distinct personalities that come and go so quickly that we hardly know whom to address. Amanda Powell was fabulous as she weaved into and out of each distinct personality. She was a kind soul followed by a nasty whore followed by a bitter British rock star want-to-be followed another, etc. Rosemary or whomever desperately wants out of her status. Can the dinner help?

brainpeople by jose rivera at urban theatre chicago

Ani (Kate Brown) tells of her desperate need to connect with someone as her loneliness gets her to fall in love and have sexual relations with a TV news anchor via TV only. Her story is vividly told by Brown. It gives us the creeps.

As the food is served, Mayannah entices her guests to enjoy the red meat telling them that it is tiger meat from India. Eventually we learn its significance. Marilyn Camacho slowly unfolds her mysterious plot that involves several horrific events from Mayannah’s past including a frightful First Communion episode and the untimely death of her parents.  I say no more so as not to spoil the story.

Director Marti Lyons navigates her three characters brilliantly through their foibles, their demons and their transformations that quickly engages us and holds the dramatic tension throughout the hour and twenty minutes.  This play will make you laugh and scare the hell out of you as it entices you into the wacky world of three desperate folks. The result is one of the finest acted shows I’ve seen this year. Brianpeople is a macabre work  that will rattle you beliefs as it celebrates the depths of psychosis.  Powerful acting and terrific storytelling fuel this “must see” play.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Jeff Recommended

At Batey Urbano , 2620 W. Division,  Chicago, IL

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