Magazine article Variety

A Piquant Parent Trap

Magazine article Variety

A Piquant Parent Trap

Article excerpt


Atlantic Stage 2; 99 seats; $45 top

Director: Jaime Castaneda; Cist Zabryna Guevara, Carmen alles, Xóchitl Romero

A piquant parent trap

Fernanda Coppel writes with the whip-smart humor and world-weary disdain of a 16-year-old schoolgirl, which is precisely the persona she adopts for "Chimichangas and Zoloft," her raunchy domestic comedy about how two best friends deal with ones parents' massive midlife crises. Under Jaime Castanedas fastidious helming for the Atlantic Theater Company, a keen cast walks that fine line between the characters' outrageous comic dilemmas and the messy but honest emotions undenying their coarse and infantile behavior.

The show's spiffy production values illustrate what a careful budget can buy for a 99-seat house: Lauren Ilelpern's ironically serene sets of two middle-class households in Los Angeles; a nervy soundscape by Broken Chord; and a color palette from lighting designer Grant W. S. Yeager that covers the full hot-tocool range on the emo spectrum.

Sonia Martinez (Zabryna Guevara, rocking this role) takes the occasion of her 40th birthday to have a meltdown. She "just needed some air" is her explanation for leaving her husband, Ricardo (Teddy Canez), and daughter, Jackie (Carmen Zilles), to pick up after themselves while she finds a safe spot where she can binge on chimichangas, her comfort food, and Zoloft, her comfort drug.

Ricardo, a fussbudget housekeeper and the best gardener in the entire neighborhood, doesn't really miss his runaway wife because he's swept up in a thrilling but illicit romance with Alejandro Lopez (Alfredo Narciso), his manly next-door neighbor.

Sonia's absence is more deeply felt by her daughter Jackie, who has a smart mouth and a good brain, but is badly in need of maternal advice about her own sexual identity issues.

But the person who is most distressed by Sonia's disappearance is Alejandro's daughter, Penelope (Xochitl Romero). As Jackie's BFF since childhood, the motherless Penelope has come to think of Sonia as her own mom. And since this know-it-all teen now suspects that she might be pregnant (by a local dope dealer, no less), she dreams up a plan to bring Sonia back home on the double. …

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