Off-Off-Broadway Theater Review: I HATE FUCKING MEXICANS (The Flea Theater)

by Sarah Taylor Ellis on October 16, 2012

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PINCHES GRINGOS!

The aliens have arrived. Mexicans, that is. Fucking Mexicans. And fucking Nigerians. Small town Southern girl Tamara-Lee can’t seem to decide which she hates more. I Hate Fucking Mexicans is a zany satire of cultural stereotypes, and no one is exempt from the raucous critique – particularly the fucking Americans like Tamara-Lee and her bigoted family.

Sarah Taylor Ellis' Stage and Cinema review of I HATE FUCKING MEXICANS at the Flea NYCAs the title may suggest, I Hate Fucking Mexicans is not a play for the easily offended. Luis Enrique Gutiérrez Ortiz Monasterio (or LEGOM) is a boundary-breaking contemporary Mexican playwright whose sensational, no-holds-barred style comes across in a punchy translation by Debbie Saivetz, Ana Graham and Danya Taymor, who also directs the show with panache.

The play overflows with outrageous caricatures. With a thick hick accent, the stupid but self-confident young Tamara-Lee (Layla Khoshnoudi) narrates the evening’s entertainment from a daisy-covered wheelchair, which she uses just because she is lazy. Her mentally retarded brother Barry Joe (Adriano Shaplin) spends most of his days on the couch watching sports with his pinky (or Tamara-Lee’s pinky) up his ass, and their fanatic Aunt Laurie, “the sensible one” (Michelle Silvani), believes she has a direct line of communication with God.

Sarah Taylor Ellis' Stage and Cinema review of I HATE FUCKING MEXICANS at the Flea NYCAmidst these Americans’ ridiculous shenanigans, Nigerian immigrant Eliaya (the commanding Ugo Chukwu) campaigns to become mayor of the city, and the Mexicans (Janice Amaya, as well as other ensemble members) take over – and vastly improve – the local farms. Tamara-Lee curses and complains about these upstart immigrants stealing American jobs. But LEGOM turns immigrant stereotypes on their head, making the lazy, ignorant Americans the central focus of ridicule. The satire certainly hits home.

Sarah Taylor Ellis' Stage and Cinema review of I HATE FUCKING MEXICANS at the Flea NYCI Hate Fucking Mexicans is never a heavy-handed political show, but rather a wild ride in a hilariously stylized universe. Every element is designed to draw attention to the play’s heightened, cartoonish construction, and Taymor’s direction is sharp and self-aware. Taymor and choreographer Tymberly Canale have developed a striking gestural vocabulary a la Steven Hoggett or Bill T. Jones, enhanced by a pervasive musical soundscape by Adriano Shaplin which compliments and often cleverly comments on the action. Erica Evans’ costumes subtly point up the play’s stereotypes – baggy overalls for Tamara-Lee, but a crisp suit for Eliaya – and are well suited for the cast’s quick changes between characters.

Sarah Taylor Ellis' Stage and Cinema review of I HATE FUCKING MEXICANS at the Flea NYCAfter all, the show may play on stereotypes, but the ensemble’s versatile performances break through any notions of a singular stereotyped identity. Over the course of this energetic hour-long show, Amaya flies through roles as Lorna, Lorna’s brother, a mother, and a Mexican lesbian. Shaplin rolls up his wifebeater and squints his eyes to take on the role of Uncle Arnold, then later dons a hoodie and rambles across stage as a thug. These shape-shifters act across race, gender, and sexuality.

I Hate Fucking Mexicans doesn’t just offer up stereotypes for stereotypes’ sake. Every fucking word counts. This pointed and playful commentary on stereotypes – particularly of immigrants – feels incredibly relevant with the upcoming November elections.  The Flea is to be congratulated for such a bold and wildly entertaining production.

photos by Hunter Canning

I Hate Fucking Mexicans
The Bats at the Flea Theatre
scheduled to end on November 4, 2012 EXTENDED through December 11, 2012
for tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit Ovation Tix

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