By Mando Alvarado.
Directed by Ricardo Gutierrez.
Produced by Teatro Vista.
At Victory Gardens, Chicago.
Weird dramatic comedy features an assortment of brothers who suck at being men.
Playwright Mando Alvarado has created a wack assortment of dysfunctional characters to populate his Parachute Men! We first meet Eric (J.Salome Martinez), plus-size bearded man who has a strange way of dealing with stress – he masturbates including sticking a sausage up his ass. While doing that, he encounters a police officer who happens to be us estranged brother. Eric has been away from Palm City, Texas for five years chasing natural disasters in order to help the victims. Sargent Andrew (Eddie Martinez) is bitter since he had to become the head of the family since Eric left just after the suicide of their mother on Christmas Day.
At their house, Eric reunites with their half brother Eli (Tommy Rivera-Vega), hyper emotional special needs man of twenty-one going on fifteen. Eli’s father, Angel, (Adam Bitterman) and step-father to Eric and Andrew still lives in the house now owned by Andrew. We see the erratic behavior by Eli including his hyper reaction of phone calls as Tommy Rivera-Vega deftly present the actions of an emotionally handicapped person.
Eric is only somewhat welcomed by Andrew, Angel and Eli after abandoning the family fie years ago. Angel is drug and alcohol free for three years. Eli plans to meet a woman he chatted with online for dinner and sex that night .
We also meet Andrews true love (for fourteen years). Cori (Maggie Scrantom) . Andrew proposes to Cori who rejects it announcing that she only wants to remain friends since she admits to being a lesbian. Later, Cori aggressively has sex with Andrew to prove to him that sex is only sex, not love. What?
As Eric tries to assimilate into the household ‘just trying to help.’ He has a masturbating experience with a female political phone caller among other strange things he does including tempting Angel with whiskey.
We see Eli’s sexual desires fulfilled by a sweet woman, Linda McFeely (Elizabeth Del Toto). Things get unhinged when Angel goes off the wagon and Cori arrives at the home to handle a complaint against Eli.
All these weird dysfunctional traits lead to some funny moments but mostly become ‘head-scratching’ actions beyond belief. Andrew is an enabler unable to accept his soulmate is a lesbian; Eric is a weak person who has strange sexual practices; while Angel has substance abuse problems due to low self esteem. Eli, thought of as needing constant supervision, is the most ‘normal’ one of the brothers. The mother’s suicide five years earlier had profound effects on all but Eli.
We see if acceptance and brotherly love can become the first step toward maturity among the brothers? While this play has some precious moments and some dark humor, I must admit that I’m not sure what the intent of playwright Alvarado was here? J. Salome Martinez and Tommy Rivera-Vegs gave heartfelt performances giving enough reasons to see this provocative play.
Date Reviewed: September 16, 2016.
For more info checkout the Parachute Men page attheatreinchicago.com.
At Victory Gardens Christiansen Theatre, 2433 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL,call 773-871-3000, www.teatrovista.org, tickets $25 – $30, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2hours, 15 minutes with intermission through October 16, 2016.