Mijo

Michael Kearns' AIDS drama "Mijo," in this remounting of a play that preemed earlier this year, shows a compelling premise and promising characters, but little else.

With:
Carmen ... Laura James Michael ... Jay Arlen Jones

Michael Kearns’ AIDS drama “Mijo,” in this remounting of a play that preemed earlier this year, shows a compelling premise and promising characters, but little else.

Carmen (Laura James) has flown from Miami to care for her dying son Juan (an offstage presence in the next room who never appears), when his ex-lover Michael (Jay Arlen Jones) mysteriously shows up. Michael immediately, and implausibly, launches into a graphic description of his sexual encounters with Juan.

While Carmen is naturally shocked and repulsed by this cruel and boorish interloper, she embarks on a psychological journey with Michael that results not only in the death of her son but in even more bizarre and bewildering events.

Laura James manages to paint a plausible, tender portrait of a mother confronting the death of her son. Eventually, she mourns not only her original sin in conceiving this child out of wedlock, but also the sin of euthanasia when Michael convinces her to hasten her son’s death.

Jones has a few soaring moments, particularly in a monologue about being taunted in childhood, but he is often too broad in his approach. Kearns’ writing is of little help.

Direction by Alec Doyle seems to provide little assistance in weaving the story and characters into a more believable whole.

Beneath this, however, is a simple and powerful dramatic premise: a Latina woman, a devout Catholic, considering the euthanasia of her only child with his ex-lover, a most irreligious and promiscuous black man.

The moral, religious and even sexual conflicts are rife, but Kearns overreaches, stating and restating the obvious while never plumbing the more subtle, profound depths of this drama.

Kearns is an actor and playwright of considerable talent; as a result, it is particularly disappointing that this dramatic situation — which is, in many respects, quite believable and has probably been enacted many times in real life — is mired in cliche and contrivance.

Mijo

(Whitefire Theatre, Van Nuys; 49 seats; $ 12 top)

Production: Artists Confronting AIDS, in association with NoHo Studios, presents a drama in one act by Michael Kearns; director, Alec Doyle.

Creative: Lighting, Deena Lynn Mullen. Opened, reviewed July 15, 1994; runs through Aug. 27. Running time: 55 min.

Cast: Carmen ... Laura James Michael ... Jay Arlen Jones

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