Curtain Critic: “La Esquinita” could use some edits

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Rubén González plays the lead role in "La Esquinita, USA." (Courtesy of Arizona Theatre Company)
Rubén González plays the lead role in “La Esquinita, USA.” (Courtesy of Arizona Theatre Company)

Rating (out of four stars): ★

“La Esquinita, USA,” a one-man show about impoverished Mexican-Americans, debuted at the Herberger Theater Center Friday evening.

The play was performed and written by renowned playwright Ruben C. Gonzalez. The story arc, though at times extremely skewed, follows a rag-tag team of societal misfits living in an abandoned manufacturing town in what can only be assumed as southern Arizona.

The play had the opportunity to hit well in Trump’s Arizona, with themes on both sides of the political spectrum, such as extreme economic downturns and race wars between minorities. However, the playwright’s style would be much more fit for a slam poetry stage or a short form piece. The 90-minute play would have done much better in 30 minutes.

With random rhythmically-styled lines and an over abundance of archetypal characters, Gonzalez’s play failed to land with the audience.

The believability of the protagonist, a teenager, was slim as he was played by a man who appears to be in his 50s. However, Gonzalez has clearly devoted his life to the study of Mexican-American culture at all ages and acted perfectly youthful.

They highlight of Gonzalez’s writing, and the play as a whole, is his ability to find inane, morbid humor in tragedies. When a character was recalling a shooting, his most prolific memory was a fingertip landing in his taco.

All in all, the playwright would do good to sit down in a room full of friends and do a preliminary run-through and make some edits.

Contact the author at rachel.banks@asu.edu. Contact the columnist at Faith.Anne.Miller@asu.edu.

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