Atlantic Theater Company presents the world premiere of this raw new play about searching for first love, family, and hope in the slums of Old San Juan. By Paola Lázaro, Atlantic’s 2016|2017 Tow Playwright-in-Residence. More…
You’re in Puerto Rico, Old San Juan. You’re a tourist. You walk down the stairs of this beautiful old fort built by the Spaniards. When you reach the bottom, you realize you’re in a hole, a slum. Welcome to La Perla, the barrio that lies beneath the tourism and behind the fort walls. You spend some days there, you don’t want to leave. Oh no, you’re addicted to the beauty, the women, and the drugs.! 'Tell Hector I Miss Him' unmasks a community built on the law of respect that keeps getting washed away but refuses to drown. Featuring Selenis Leyva and Dascha Polanco of 'Orange is the New Black.'
"A raw and impassioned performance of life and longing in Puerto Rico…Playwright Paola Lázaro and director David Mendizábal expertly set the tone for their explosive world premiere...Lázaro and Mendizábal’s vision comes alive with a brilliantly cast ensemble…Although the ensemble can be hilariously unruly and flamboyant, there is no amount of braggadocio that can mask their unbearable longing for human connection in a country frustrated from being severed and left behind." Full Review
"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...Lazaro writes characters who live and breathe on their own...Individually and collectively, the inhabitants of this community are no cliched caricatures but characters with multi-layered dimensions. The idiomatic dialogue Lazaro puts into their mouths is as realistically filthy as it is fluent." Full Review
"Lázaro is a spinner of vivid tales possessed of a sharp ear for language and a keen eye for the humane comic detail...Stories combust into such glinting shards that the play unfolds with giddy energy...Lázaro has been blessed with a superb company and, in David Mendizábal, a director who keeps a firm hand on the chaos, establishing an engaging balance between comedy and pathos as these characters work their way under our skin. I’d have happily spent more time with them." Full Review
"A finer casting of purely ethnic actors is rare to be found. At home in their accents and culture, these actors are free to explore the dialogue and the emotions translated from playwright Paola Lazaro's head to the page and back onto the stage. And a remarkable job they do...Life on the bottom rung is a tough one and these fine actors do their best to show you just how tough it is to live here and even more so to leave." Full Review
"Wonderfully acted...If the play itself sometimes puzzles, and shocks, it also marks a remarkable playwriting debut by 28-year-old Paola Lazaro...From the very first lines, the playwright establishes a tone that threads throughout the piece — in-your-face, unexpected, and amusing...May not sit well with many theatergoers, used to a more focused and orderly drama. But I found that I better understood and appreciated most of these characters’ eerie behavior by the end." Full Review
"The ample profanity, like the rest of the frank, funny and touching talk, including bits in Spanish, feels real. The same goes for the colorful characters, each expertly played by the ace ensemble, in a slice of life of loners and down-and-outers determined to connect. It’s a familiar theme and eventually the play wilts from overstatement...But the author wisely refrains from tying up any plot threads with a bow. Life’s not tidy. The play isn't either, and it’s better for it." Full Review
"The darker side of Puerto Rican culture is brought vividly to life in ‘Tell Hector I Miss Him,’ an accomplished debut effort…Lazaro–aided here by an expert ensemble cast under David Mendizabal’s assured direction–paints a moving portrait of men and women struggling, mostly less-than-successfully, to improve their lives…Nonetheless, I think Lazaro might have done well to eliminate some of the show’s personae...Fortunately, your mind should only drift intermittently." Full Review
"With a beautifully lyrical but unwieldy style, Lázaro explores an entire community...She impressively captures the essence of her subjects through raw and honest dialogue. Unfortunately, she opens so many doors in the first act that it proves difficult to close them all in a satisfying way in the second...Whatever Lázaro lacks in finesse, she more than makes up for by crafting believably round and dynamic characters...A sophisticated, brutally honest take from a promising young playwright." Full Review
"Lázaro paints a sympathetic community portrait that, while not ignoring the darker issues, gives proper focus to the humanity...It's a colorful mix and Lázaro displays a talent for language made of natural street poetics, finding tonal and rhythmic beauty in the harsh dialogue. Director David Mendizábal glides a fine company through a play that suffers a bit in the second half for lack of a clear dramatic arc, but the playwright never allows too many pages to go by without an interesting turn." Full Review
"Paola Lázaro has a powerful voice…As directed by David Mendizábal, the overall effect is not as engaging as one would hope given the topics they cover....I just wanted the guide to slow down so we all have a chance to take in these vivid and eccentric characters…I wanted to dig deeper into some of these stories, and flesh them out…The play definitely feels like it’s coming from an authentic attachment to character, location, and style…I wanted more." Full Review
"The play reveals a young playwright of considerable talent, who needs to gain some discipline in her storytelling style...The play features numerous plot lines that waver in holding our attention...Under the assured staging of David Mendizabal, the play certainly feels lived-in. The nearly all-Hispanic ensemble delivers consistently strong performances...While 'Tell Hector I Miss Him' would have benefited from a sharper focus and judicious trimming, it contains much to admire," Full Review
"Lazaro's play is a mosaic of scenes, seemingly unrelated (at least at the outset)...Features a bilingual cast that, even in previews, had gelled as an impressive ensemble. The actors' performances have a seeming spontaneity that's unusual, even in a theater profoundly influenced by Method acting and its concerted naturalism...It's all interesting and touching. However, neither the writer nor the director manage to transform the disparate scenes into an integrated whole." Full Review
"Those looking for clear narrative arcs and thematic structures will find the impressionistic 'Tell Hector' difficult...The ambition of the work is not always fully realized in this production. Under Mendizibal's direction, the cast, though quite able, feels disconnected, and the ensemble's performances come across as scattered...Flaws aside, there is a lot to love in this work by the 28-year-old playwright. Go and see it and be able to say, 'I was there when her magic was discovered.'" Full Review
“Lazaro has drawn some wonderful characters, and her dialogue is extraordinary. She clearly knows this world intimately…However, there’s an embarrassment of riches in the character-heavy ‘Tell Hector I Miss Him’...There are so many characters and stories that the focus gets lost, story lines don’t get resolved, and we’re left feeling confused about what the takeaway is. We’ve spent an enjoyable couple of hours in the theater, but we’re not sure who and what it was about.” Full Review
"While it is populated by some sharply drawn characters dangling eccentricities and pathologies, and features some passages of biting humor, this darkish comedy-drama lacks focus and narrative drive...It comes to feel like a few short plays spliced together to form a full-length one, a collage that lacks an overarching design...Still, under the sympathetic direction of David Mendizábal, the ample cast brings defining individuality to their characters." Full Review
"The everyday struggles of the underprivileged can be imbued with poetry and epic emotion. Unfortunately, the dozen downtrodden characters in Lázaro’s debut play are more likely to try your patience than inspire your empathy. This is no fault of the production’s capable actors, nearly all Latino, who bring authenticity to somewhat stereotypically written roles...Some of their intertwined stories are engaging...others are tedious...Too many of Lázaro’s neofolktales fall into the second category." Full Review
“It’s teeming with colorful lower-class types and has a frenetic sort of energy, but its limited appeal is almost all on the surface. While its characters have moments of genuine emotion and unforced laughter, more often they’re grandstanding or posing for effect…Director David Mendizábal follows the author’s lead. Almost everything is painted with broad strokes. Actors yell almost as often as speak. Music blares." Full Review
"So overstuffed with plots and characters that they crowd each other out. Given the play's length of roughly two hours and ten minutes, none of the many situations get the time and attention needed to become emotionally engaging or suspenseful...Some of the attempts at humor are pretty dire...Under the direction of David Mendizábal, the actors go at their characters in hammer-and-tongs fashion, working themselves up into emotional lathers in ten seconds or less." Full Review
"There's nothing compelling or addicting about Lázaro's play; she hasn't yet discovered how to assemble its myriad pieces into anything resembling coherent, let alone emotionally attuned, storytelling...The right director could help her focus, but David Mendizábal has delivered such a cluttered, poorly paced production, even what may be passable doesn't get the chance to shine...The acting...is worth neither further discussion nor naming and shaming the performers." Full Review
See it if you appreciate exquisitely-written dialogue and exceptional acting. I was rapt. Virtually all these characters were so well written & acted
Don't see it if cursing, Spanish language, real people or lack of an arc bother you.
See it if You like Latino theatre, intimate setting, edgy characters, drug/alcohol abuse, smoking onstage, LGBT, cussing, and stars of tv and film...
Don't see it if You hate all of the above. It was good!!, but, can feel a little long. Many characters, of which only 2 (minor ones), reference the title..
See it if You like vignettes featuring interesting people you probably don't know and might not think you want to.
Don't see it if You require plot with a strong arc and you dislike swearing and the demimonde.
See it if ...you are from Puerto Rico you will enjoy the show even if you're not familiar with the character's situations. The acting is superb!
Don't see it if ...you won't like that the dialog is in Spanish/English. Lots of cursing and intense situations.
See it if you want to see a powerful performance from Selenis Leyva. Overall, the writing of these characters is strong and the direction is smart.
Don't see it if Some of the other performances are weaker, which makes the play feel uneven.
See it if You like intertwining stories in which the set reflects the inner lives of the play's characters. If you care about relationships.
Don't see it if You only go to see plays based on The NY Times review.
See it if You want to encourage promising new playwrights. There are many wonderful scenes in here, and the writing is funny as hell in parts.
Don't see it if Play is episodic, set in Puerto Rico, not all parts equally strong. If you're a fan of new plays, go. If you love polish/perfection, don't
See it if you enjoy comedy set in a San Juan grocery that follows the quirks and antics of 12+ odd but passionate people dealing with personal crises
Don't see it if you feel intimidated by a play with some Spanish in it tho it doesn't matter, unfamiliar with certain aspects of Puerto Rican culture
See it if you enjoy discovering a subculture, with great acting and don't need to "get" the whole story. (btw... I'm Puerto Rican)
Don't see it if don't like edgy and cursing. You need more pathos and resolution, following too many story lines confuses you & Good acting is not enough.
See it if you want to be in on the ground floor of an interesting voice. A Latin stage experience, with realistic, unresolved resolutions.
Don't see it if you want more than vignettes, or a slice of life experience. You need a neat packaged ending.
See it if You like to get close to people who are very different from your life's experience. Hot they get through every day. Lots of wild characters.
Don't see it if You don't care to meet these Latin characters who share their life's experience with you.
See it if you're interested in the cast and the setting and can enjoy a play with lots of breadth and almost no depth.
Don't see it if you prefer complex and surprising characters to a meandering series of events.
See it if you like seeing plays given a full production before they're ready. This feels like a first draft of a really promising play.
Don't see it if REALLY uneven performances will negatively impact your enjoyment (there are 2 or 3 great performances and the rest are very mixed).
See it if you enjoy expletives in virtually every sentence and you can understand Spanish, which is in much of the dialogue.
Don't see it if cursing brothers you, or if women examining their friends 'privates' to see if they resemble ground beef is interesting.
See it if You're a performer out to be inspired. This cast is chock-a-block with impressive stars. If you want to support diverse stories.
Don't see it if you're going for an engaging, interesting or well written story. The script still needs a lot of work.
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