Saturday, March 25, 2017

Latin History for Morons


It’s hard to believe that it’s over 25 years since I first saw John Leguizamo in his one-man show Mambo Mouth. On the basis of his new show at the Public Theater, I can report that he is still a consummate entertainer who owns the audience. Marriage and fatherhood may have mellowed him a bit, but he still ventures into X-rated territory. Upset that his 8th-grade son has been repeatedly bullied at school, he sets out to boost his son's self-estem by helping him write a report about his hero. He tries to instill the son with Latino pride by telling him about heroic historical examples from the Aztecs to the Incas and onward. It’s a loose structure that gives Leguizamo plenty of opportunity for hilarious impersonations and dance moves. He presents his findings as a mock lecture complete with blackboard scribblings. At its best, it’s very entertaining, but it occasionally sags and becomes repetitive. Nevertheless, it’s always a pleasure to see Leguizamo at work. Rachel Hauck designed the classroom-like set. Tony Taccone, whose work with one-person shows includes Bridge & Tunnel and Wishful Drinking, directed. Running time: one hour 40 minutes: no intermission.

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