Chimichangas and Zoloft – New Play by Fernanda Coppel

I attended a preview performance of "Chimichangas and Zoloft", a new play by Fernanda Coppel, at Atlantic Theater Company on May 30.  It has opened since then, so I now feel free to comment about it, keeping in mind, of course, that I attended a preview while the production was still in the process of being prepared for its formal opening, so what I saw on May 30 probably differs from what is now being presented.

This play gives us teenage girls dealing with growing up in homes with fathers (and missing mothers).  The girls speak outrageously with each other, using the unbounded profanities and obscenities of youth, as one struggles with coming out as a lesbian.  At the same time, their dads keep up the stolid "dad" persona while conducting a secret gay affair with each other.  The "outside" to all this is the mother of the lesbian, who is off somewhere trying to put her life back together, having developed a drug dependency.  In other words, here is a dysfunctional family show, folks.  And it is vastly entertaining.

I was very impressed by all the performers: Zabryna Guevara (as the missing mom), Carmen Zilles (as the lesbian teen), Xochitl Romero (as her loyal friend), Alfredo Narciso (as the friend's father), and Teddy Canez (as the lesbian's father).  Jaime Castaneda directs a fast-paced production.  The only device that feels a bit stilted is the interspersed soliloquys by the mother, but they do help to advance the psychological plotting.  It is interesting to see how people wrapped up in their own problems fail to detect the problems of the people around them — even those very close to them — which might well be a central theme of the play.

This is one of the better new Atlantic Theater productions I've seen lately.

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