Bay Area Theater Review: KISS MY AZTEC! (Berkeley Repertory Theatre)

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by Harvey Perr on June 8, 2019

in Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area


Inspired lunacy? Or strained silliness? Irreverent? Or just plain vulgar? A broad range of Latin musical genres? Or music that’s just plain derivative? See Kiss My Aztec! at Berkeley Rep and make your choice.

What Tony Taccone and John Leguizamo have done is to take a little known piece of Aztec history and play with transforming it into what someone has called “low comedy” with “hi-falutin’ ideas,” like what Spamalot did with the Holy Grail (but without the Monty Python imprimatur) or what A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum did to ancient Roman comedy (but without Stephen Sondheim’s score).

Whether or not they have succeeded will depend on your tolerance for jokes that were old even in the times of Aztec culture, on whether you think making fun of Tourette Syndrome is a sign of wit, if bouncing a ball around the theater before the show starts is a substitute for the kind of mayhem an artist like Taylor Mac does to create a genuine party atmosphere, if…if…if.

Oh, well, what can’t be argued is the propulsive energy of its eager cast, the way certain performers, like Joél Pérez and Maria-Christina Oliveras, take absolute charge when they take center stage, or the fact, here and there, that a song like “Dark Meat” can create a genuine fusion of Benjamin Velez’s music, the lyrics of David Kamp and John Leguizamo and Mr. Velez, and the pitch perfect interpretation it receives, which suggest how the show can grow into something more cohesive than the haphazard show it is at the moment.

This is Tony Taccone’s last directorial work for Berkeley Rep, after a 22-year tenure as its artistic director, and the opening night was awash with sentimentality about his departure. Great way to end? Or what a way to go? Again, the choice is yours. I think you have some idea of one person’s reaction.

photos courtesy of Alessandra Mello &
Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Kiss My Aztec!
Berkeley Rep
Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre
2015 Addison Street @ Shattuck
ends on July 14, 2019
for tickets, call 510.647.2949 or visit Berkeley Rep

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