The new production of Elizabeth Irwin’s “My Mañana Comes” is an intriguing, entirely believable journey into a world that most of us are at least partially aware of, but also know entirely too little about. In this Arts West production, smartly directed by Mathew Wright, we spend the entire play in the backroom of the kitchen of a relatively upscale restaurant where four busboys, three Latinos (one of whom was born in America) and one African American, work very hard to succeed at their jobs and maintain their lives in America. As fast paced as the demands of their job, the play leads us into a deep understanding of what it means to live this sort of life, to have workmates who (they initially believe) are also friends, and to live your entire existence beneath the notice of a larger society. The revelations of who these four men really are, and what they will do in order to secure their place in America, is really the backbone of this plot. Handsomely produced and very believably acted, this production doesn’t compromise one bit, and by the end we all understand a great deal more about a segment of society that may be largely invisible to many of us.
The set design, by Burton Yuen, is really spectacular, creating a world in which all four of these men live and work, but never really belong. The pace of their jobs really underscores the pace of their lives, and although they have very friendly interactions, they will ultimately be delivered to a place where they have to decide if they can confront the management or find somewhere else to work. A fair bit of the dialogue is in Spanish, and while that excludes many of us non-Spanish speakers, it also tightens the bonds between these four. None of these men ever forget who they are, or what this life demands of them. The acting was impeccable.
Perhaps the most outstanding character was Peter, the African-American man played by Tyler Trerise. Although it may be a bit unusual to have a young black man be the character with the most cultural advantages, Trerise made it clear that this was not a man without conflicts or without challenges to his character. As Whalid, the Latino man born in America, Joshua Chessin-Yudin did a great job of portraying a guy who just wants to get along, but also wants for the game to be played fairly. His collusion with Peter is complex, saddening and entirely understandable. Jorge, a Latino man who is just trying to support his family and earn an honest living, is very convincingly played by Santino Garcia. What I most admired was the stability and integrity of the character, and the fact that he would not put those he loved in jeopardy for his own advantage. Finally, Chris Rodrigues played the very young, still emerging character of Pepe. Although never on a level with the others, I really appreciated how good this young man was, how willing to work hard and fit in so that he could improve his own life and the lives of those he loves. Most importantly, all four of these characters felt like real people leading real lives most often just beneath our notice. That had a great deal to do with making this script, and this story, believable and engaging.
ArtsWest is to be commended for choosing this script. Not only does it allow us to focus on individuals we would most likely overlook in our everyday lives, but it also accents all of the problems and challenges that individuals from another culture face in our modern society. As the new Artistic Director for Arts West, Mathew Wright is proving that he wants to expand the reach of local theater, and make many elements of the commonplace, external world more immediate and relevant to the often advantaged theater audience. “My Mañana Comes” is an excellent production of a worthy play.
PICTURED ABOVE: Joshua Chessin-Yudin (Whalid) & Tyler Trerise (Peter)
PHOTO BY: Michael Brunk