In Elizabeth Irwin’s powerful new play, four young men work as busboys in the kitchen of an upscale New York restaurant. The leader is African American, the other three Mexican, two of them illegal immigrants. While juggling delicate entrees and demanding customers they jest and care for each other in a way only those who face similar discrimination can achieve. Hey, these guys have to move fast, work quickly and keep a cheery smile. We’ve seen them ourselves when dining in fine restaurants. Or not really seen them as this play reminds us.
There is comedy, sure, but underneath there is understanding of the unrealized dreams of the overlooked little guys. To be underprivileged in the midst of wealth means that loyalty and compassion for a brother is at the mercy of the master’s whim. In this case, the owner has decided to cut their wages and let them live off meager tips. This cruel decision creates the heart wrenching denouement because, when pitted even against a brother, is there any other option than your own survival?
Under Armando Molina’s meticulous direction there are brilliant performances by Lawrence Stallings, Richard Azurdia, Peter Pasco and Pablo Castelblanco. Great theater reminds us of our common humanity and, at a time when there are demands to close all borders against those in need, this is an important statement.
At The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave, at Normandie, Hollywood, through June 26. Tickets: (323) 663-1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com. Note: Pay-What-You-Can every Monday night!
Photos by Ed Krieger.
Also reviewed in the May issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.