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Boleros For the Disenchanted
Rivera’s magically realistic poem-play delivers some ravishingly delicious dialogue between Elizabeth Ledo’s young hopeful and Joe Minoso as her dogged suitor, matched in tenderness if not intensity by Sandra Marquez and Rene Rivera as their older selves. Six actors create a family album, with the third dimension making all the difference.
But, like Terms of Endearment, this eager-to-please play employs easy laughs, cultural caricatures, sexist stereotypes and instant answers to manipulate more than persuade. Soapy-serious, the script tolerates no ambiguity as it works overtime not to confuse us about the characters. Excess exposition, pat pronouncements, and editorializing (where characters tell us how to view them rather than how they see themselves) confirm a calculated cuteness that spoils the spontaneity of a sterling ensemble. You never see any signs of struggle behind these glib speeches: They’re messages meant to save us the trouble of meeting the characters half way.
Even though he doesn’t trust the audience to get it, Rivera’s reclamation effort is a non-negotiable labor of love. His emotional travelogue takes us through love’s many mazes. For many the trip will be worth the contrivances.
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