Review "Notes on the murder": for these Puerto Ricans, promises never kept

A drag performer, the receptionist suggests that Lolita prepare for her task by pretending to shoot a drag version of each of the seven c...


A drag performer, the receptionist suggests that Lolita prepare for her task by pretending to shoot a drag version of each of the seven council members. Ideally, they have a propeller gun covered in gold glitter in a handy drawer, which she can use in their skit. The receptionist then provides a fabulous rendition of each member – dancing and lip-syncing, flawless makeup.

Crazy, exuberant and rightly angry, Vélez Meléndez’s play borrows from European absurd theatre, like the plays of Jarry and Genet, as well as from a tradition of Latin American surrealism. Under the direction of David Mendizábal, who also designed the irrepressible costumes, the show takes place less in an office and more in a shimmering theater of the mind. Is all of this real? Is it important? Hush! They’re playing Spice Up Your Life.

“Notes” is odd in its aesthetics, if not exactly in its form. The drag personae emerge cleanly, one after the other, and the scenes take on a kind of similarity. But the play challenges Carmela and la Perdida to negotiate realism, fantasy and everything in between, a challenge they accept with giddiness, sometimes finding genuine emotion even amidst the irrational and bizarre. And there’s fun, of course, in seeing the Perdida emerge in every new outfit. (This is probably a show where the backstage action – the frantic donning and doffing of wig, makeup, and costume – is probably just as exciting as what happens on stage.)

Ultimately, Vélez Meléndez cares less about political consequences and more about individual identity. Will Lolita carry out a mass murder? Maybe! Will she push the receptionist towards self-determination? Now there is a question.

The moral of “Notes”, simply stated by Lolita, is both provocation and invitation: “The journey of decolonization begins with oneself! Few of us can significantly affect Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis or its thwarted journey to statehood or independence. But can we shake it, shake it, shake it, with authenticity? Can we govern ourselves in our private lives? “Notes” suggests that with enough glitter, we can.

Notes on the assassination of seven members of the Supervisory, Management and Economic Stability Council
Through June 19 at the Soho Repertory Theatre, Manhattan; sohorep.org. Duration: 1h35.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Review "Notes on the murder": for these Puerto Ricans, promises never kept
Review "Notes on the murder": for these Puerto Ricans, promises never kept
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