×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Off Broadway Review: ‘Tell Hector I Miss Him’

With:
Victor Almanzar, Sean Carvajal, Alexander Flores, Yadira Guevara-Prip, Juan Carlos Hernandez, Selenis Leyva, Talene Monahon, Flaco Navaja, Dascha Polanco, Lisa Ramirez, Luis Vega, Analisa Velez.

Life, in all its messy glory, overflows the stage of the Atlantic Theater Company in this dynamically staged production of “Tell Hector I Miss Him.” Paola Lazaro’s animated ensemble piece unearths the volatile residents of a close-knit community living underground in Old San Juan, and a vibrant acting company — directed by David Mendizabal and featuring two “Orange Is the New Black” cast members — breathes life into every quirky character. 

A dozen marginal people in this spirited city find safety and companionship underground, in the stone basement of an old Spanish fort. As the de facto leader of this alternative community, Mostro (in a muscular performance from Juan Carlos Hernandez) does his best to keep the peace. But he is constantly distracted by the sexual escapades of his hot wife, Samira (Selenis Leyva, better known as Gloria Mendoza in the Netflix series), who is irresistible to men.

But the real sex goddess around here is Malena (Dascha Polanco, also of “Orange Is the New Black”). Despite the adoration, Malena acknowledges that she’s not happy. “But I have a good time,” she says, making the distinction between true happiness and fun.

“You’re the most gorgeous woman I have ever seen in my life,” says 16-year-old Isis (Yadira Guevara-Prip, a real firecracker), so captivated that she follows this goddess around like a puppy.

The relationship of Mostro and Samira serves as the solid core of Lazaro’s whirlwind of a play. But there are lots of vivid characters and plentiful subplots in this colorful San Juan underworld — enough to keep director Mendizabal’s excellent ensemble on their toes and dancing like mad.

Alexander Flores shows his dramatic range as the teenaged Tono. He’s funny enough when recounting how he got kicked out of school for making sexual moves on his teacher: “I really thought she loved me!” he protests, and besides, “I just have a lot of energy, you know?” And he’s sincerely moving when begging his drunk of a mother (a nice performance from Lisa Ramirez) to dry out so he can leave home without feeling that he betrayed her.

Sean Carvajal is another eye-catcher. Sadly funny as Palito, a remarkably unsuccessful drug pusher whose brain was scrambled from fetal alcohol syndrome, he’s incredibly moving when the character is banished from the community for making rough moves on a woman. “Nobody likes me out there,” he wails, in genuine fear for his life. But there are rules of conduct in this safe community, and Mostro doesn’t flinch from enforcing them.

Lazaro writes characters who live and breathe on their own. There’s coked-up Hugo (Flaco Navaja), who has finally noticed that his beloved Maria has been carrying her toothbrush everywhere she goes. And sexy Tati (sexy Analisa Velez), who treats Palito like her slave but grudgingly admits that she enjoys sitting beside him and watching cartoons.

Individually and collectively, the inhabitants of this protective community are no clichéd caricatures but characters with multilayered dimensions. The idiomatic dialogue Lazaro puts into their mouths is as realistically filthy as it is fluent. Every character swears a blue streak, but none of them swears in the same way. In the scheme of things, that’s quite an achievement for a playwright — which makes it surprising that no one has yet claimed Lazaro’s glib tongue for some TV series.

Off Broadway Review: 'Tell Hector I Miss Him'

Atlantic Theater Company / Stage 2; 95 seats; $61.50 top. Reviewed Jan. 19, 2017. Opened Jan. 23. Running time: 2 HOURS, 10 MIN.

Production: An Atlantic Theater Company production of a play in two acts by Paola Lazaro.

Creative: Directed by David Mendizabal. Set, Clint Ramos; costumes, Dede M. Ayite; lighting, Eric Southern; sound, Jesse Mandapat.

Cast: Victor Almanzar, Sean Carvajal, Alexander Flores, Yadira Guevara-Prip, Juan Carlos Hernandez, Selenis Leyva, Talene Monahon, Flaco Navaja, Dascha Polanco, Lisa Ramirez, Luis Vega, Analisa Velez.

More Legit

  • Kelli O'Hara

    Listen: How Kelli O'Hara Brings #MeToo to 'Kiss Me, Kate'

    “Kiss Me, Kate” is one of the best-known titles in musical theater. But in this day and age, the “Taming of the Shrew”-inspired comedy’s depiction of the gender dynamic seems downright, well, problematic. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Kelli O’Hara is well aware of that, and so were her collaborators on the Roundabout Theatre [...]

  • All My Sons review

    Broadway Review: 'All My Sons' With Annette Bening

    Don’t be fooled by the placid backyard setting, neighborly small talk and father-son joviality at the start of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s blistering revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” starring Annette Bening and Tracy Letts. There are plenty of secrets, resentments and disillusionments ahead, poised to rip this sunny Middle Americana facade to shreds. [...]

  • A still image from The Seven

    How Magic Leap, Video Games Are Defining Future of Royal Shakespeare Company

    At the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon, Sarah Ellis has the difficult job of figuring out where theater of the 1500s fits into the 21st century. As Director of Digital Development, a title which might seem out of place in an industry ruled by live, human performances, Ellis represents a recent seachange on [...]

  • Gary review

    Broadway Review: 'Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus' With Nathan Lane

    Nathan Lane and Kristine Nielsen, two of the funniest people on the face of the earth, play street cleaners tasked with carting away the dead after the civil wars that brought down the Roman Empire. Well, a job’s a job, and Gary (Lane) and Janice (Nielsen) go about their disgusting work without complaint. “Long story [...]

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Three Sisters review

    London Theater Review: 'Three Sisters'

    Ennui has become exhaustion in playwright Cordelia Lynn’s new version of “Three Sisters.” The word recurs and recurs. Everyone on the Prozorov estate is worn out; too “overworked” to do anything but sit around idle. Are they killing time or is time killing them? Either way, a play often framed as a study of boredom [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content