You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Santos & Santos

Exhilarating and provocative, Octavio Solis' "Santos & Santos" merits a serious look by regional and Off Broadway stages. An ambitious, wickedly funny melodrama, the nearly three-hour "Santos" is epic in both plot and its tart, free-swinging perspective.

With:
Cast: Sean San Jose Blackman (Tomas Santos), Michael Torres (Miguel Santos), Luis Saguar (Fernando Santos), Maria Candelaria (Vicky), Dena Martinez (Nena), Hansford Prince (Camacho), Karen Amano (Pamela), James Carpenter (Judge Benton), Art Desuyo (Gonzalez), Brian Keith Russell (Casper T. Willis), Denise Balthrop (Peggy Tomlinson-Willis), Susan Raab (Felicia Lee Tomlinson), Manuel Fernandez (Voice of Don Miguel).

Exhilarating and provocative, Octavio Solis’ “Santos & Santos” merits a serious look by regional and Off Broadway stages. An ambitious, wickedly funny melodrama, the nearly three-hour “Santos” is epic in both plot and its tart, free-swinging perspective.

“Santos” debuted in 1993 as a work-in-progress at the cavernous Theater Artaud, making its official premiere at the Dallas Theater Center last year. The fledgling S.F. company Campo Santo now has mounted a chamber-scale production at the tiny New Langdon Arts Theater, and the play’s impact is undiminished.

Unfolding over three acts, the play begins as young Tomas (Sean San Jose Blackman) returns to hometown El Paso after a soul-deadening stint as a San Diego district attorney. He joins elder sibs Miguel and Fernando in a flashy, community-minded private law practice.

This idyll of Mexican-American swagger is short-lived. Recruited by a federal judge, Tomas narcs on his brothers’ drug trafficking, figuring he’ll save the family. Repercussions are as immediate as they are violent, misguided and shocking.

It would be unfair to reveal further the narrative surprises Solis spitballs through this riveting mix of “Godfather” operatics, black humor and moral inquiry. As successive disasters strike, various loyalties gnaw at Tomas, twisting him toward increasingly destructive actions.

Is he right to blow the whistle on the corrupt Santos game? Can betrayal of kin be excused on a higher moral ground? Or has Tomas been a fool for the racist U.S. judicial system? “Santos & Santos” views such dilemmas as a huge gray zone.

The characters prove changeable under pressure, making for a wittily complex psychological landscape. Patriarchal Miguel and hot-tempered Fernie melt when the heat comes down; other characters sink or swim in the tidal shifts.

Several actors in the excellent cast repeat roles from director Tony Kelly’s 1993 production; the most significant new arrival is Blackman, who brings an apt mix of earnestness and panic to Tomas’ gradual, hapless disintegration. Michael Torres and Luis Saguar remain terrific as the other Santos siblings. James Carpenter lends the judge a more Mephistophelean tilt than hitherto, injecting a distracting sexual tension into his exploitation of Tomas.

The play’s theme of second-generation Mexican-Americans struggling upstream in the land of unequal opportunity is sometimes spelled out in murky dramaturgical gambits, including “Strange Interlude”-style musings. Laden with metaphorical language, these bits stick out a bit too much in a text otherwise high on straight-talking oomph. The compellingly lurid story and its comic irony are what hold the attention.

Somewhat surprisingly, “Santos & Santos” plays just as well in a minuscule space as it did filling Artaud’s hangar-like expanse. Kelly handles overlapping or quick-changing scenes with aplomb; there’s no set to speak of beyond a table, chairs and Jim Cave’s starkly effective lighting design. Sarah Cant’s costumes are right-on, and Tito Larriva’s new music package includes stirring excerpts from David Conte’s string-based original 1993 score.

Santos & Santos

Production: SAN FRANCISCO A Campo Santo presentation, in association with Thick Description, of a play in three acts by Octavio Solis. Directed by Tony Kelly. Costumes, Sarah Cant.

Crew: Lighting, Jim Cave; sound, Kirk Ward; music, Tito Larriva; stage management, Aaron Whitecat Greenwald. Opened July 22, 1996, at New Langdon Arts Theater. Reviewed July 25; 48 seats; $ 12 top. Running time: 2 HOURS, 45 MIN.

With: Cast: Sean San Jose Blackman (Tomas Santos), Michael Torres (Miguel Santos), Luis Saguar (Fernando Santos), Maria Candelaria (Vicky), Dena Martinez (Nena), Hansford Prince (Camacho), Karen Amano (Pamela), James Carpenter (Judge Benton), Art Desuyo (Gonzalez), Brian Keith Russell (Casper T. Willis), Denise Balthrop (Peggy Tomlinson-Willis), Susan Raab (Felicia Lee Tomlinson), Manuel Fernandez (Voice of Don Miguel).

More Film

  • Loro Italian Cinema Berlin Film Festival

    Local Investment, Kudos Boost Italian Cinema's Profile

    Exhilarating and provocative, Octavio Solis’ “Santos & Santos” merits a serious look by regional and Off Broadway stages. An ambitious, wickedly funny melodrama, the nearly three-hour “Santos” is epic in both plot and its tart, free-swinging perspective. “Santos” debuted in 1993 as a work-in-progress at the cavernous Theater Artaud, making its official premiere at the […]

  • Catherine Deneuve

    Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Bercot to Star in Cedric Kahn's New Outing, 'Joyeux Anniversaire' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Exhilarating and provocative, Octavio Solis’ “Santos & Santos” merits a serious look by regional and Off Broadway stages. An ambitious, wickedly funny melodrama, the nearly three-hour “Santos” is epic in both plot and its tart, free-swinging perspective. “Santos” debuted in 1993 as a work-in-progress at the cavernous Theater Artaud, making its official premiere at the […]

  • Marysia Nikitiuk, Igor Savychenko Talk ‘When

    Berlin: Marysia Nikitiuk, Igor Savychenko Talk ‘When the Trees Fall’

    Exhilarating and provocative, Octavio Solis’ “Santos & Santos” merits a serious look by regional and Off Broadway stages. An ambitious, wickedly funny melodrama, the nearly three-hour “Santos” is epic in both plot and its tart, free-swinging perspective. “Santos” debuted in 1993 as a work-in-progress at the cavernous Theater Artaud, making its official premiere at the […]

  • Magnolia Acquires North American Rights to

    Magnolia Acquires North American Rights to Pathé's 'Alain Ducasse' Documentary (EXCLUSIVE)

    Exhilarating and provocative, Octavio Solis’ “Santos & Santos” merits a serious look by regional and Off Broadway stages. An ambitious, wickedly funny melodrama, the nearly three-hour “Santos” is epic in both plot and its tart, free-swinging perspective. “Santos” debuted in 1993 as a work-in-progress at the cavernous Theater Artaud, making its official premiere at the […]

  • Berlin Buyers Flock to Gaumont's Comedy

    Berlin Buyers Flock to Gaumont's Comedy 'Rolling to You' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Exhilarating and provocative, Octavio Solis’ “Santos & Santos” merits a serious look by regional and Off Broadway stages. An ambitious, wickedly funny melodrama, the nearly three-hour “Santos” is epic in both plot and its tart, free-swinging perspective. “Santos” debuted in 1993 as a work-in-progress at the cavernous Theater Artaud, making its official premiere at the […]

  • Berlinale -- 2018 -- Benjamín Avila

    Benjamín Avila to Direct ‘The Commitment,’ Which Gets a First Promo (EXCLUSIVE)

    Exhilarating and provocative, Octavio Solis’ “Santos & Santos” merits a serious look by regional and Off Broadway stages. An ambitious, wickedly funny melodrama, the nearly three-hour “Santos” is epic in both plot and its tart, free-swinging perspective. “Santos” debuted in 1993 as a work-in-progress at the cavernous Theater Artaud, making its official premiere at the […]

  • Blade Runner 2049

    'Blade Runner 2049,' 'The Crown' Win ASC Awards for Cinematography

    Exhilarating and provocative, Octavio Solis’ “Santos & Santos” merits a serious look by regional and Off Broadway stages. An ambitious, wickedly funny melodrama, the nearly three-hour “Santos” is epic in both plot and its tart, free-swinging perspective. “Santos” debuted in 1993 as a work-in-progress at the cavernous Theater Artaud, making its official premiere at the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content