This past weekend, if one were to walk into Loyola’s Underground Theatre (1020 W. Sheridan Road), they would be seated amidst a crowded kitchen in New York City, prepared to see the student production “My Mañana Comes.” With little advertisement, all bets were off as to what was to be expected, but the show brought to the table a heartfelt and necessary story.
Taking place exclusively in the kitchen in which they work, “My Mañana Comes” follows four busboys over the course of several months. Through overlapping dialogue and casual conversations, the audience gains insight into their lives and the struggles they endure in relation to each character’s cultural identity. While a standard plot, the production offers a unique Latino perspective and gives vital representation to a community typically unnoticed within theater.
At its core, the strongest aspect of the show was its genuine tone. Nothing about “My Mañana Comes” seemed over-rehearsed or forced, emphasizing the reality behind the depicted Latino experience. All the actors physically committed to the roles, moving in ways true to how the characters would move, with hunched backs from holding food and constant scrambling around within the kitchen; it wasn’t students on stage but instead true-to-life busboys.
The set was basic yet immersive. It wasn’t showy, but each prop contributed to the atmosphere and almost all were utilized by the cast. Given the small space of the theater, it was as if the audience was sitting in the kitchen along with the characters.
This show didn’t have a “fourth wall” or any distance between the audience and the actors. Instead, everyone was a part of the community of the kitchen setting since there was no barrier, which only made it appear more natural.
Every character belonged to the storyline, leading to a nice balance between the actors; there was no “main” character. Dialogue consistently volleyed back and forth and the emotions of each built off what the others had to say. No time felt wasted or unused. Each line held a purpose and helped push the plot to its climax.
Despite the authentic feelings and set, there were several drawbacks to the show.
“My Mañana Comes” was composed of first-time actors Uriel Reyes Vazquez as Jorge, Lewis Hurt as Peter, Christopher Lopez as Whalid and Kevin Garcia as Pepe. While their emotions were raw, many basics were lacking. Diction and movement of the actors was inconsistent and hard to interpret, and they often stumbled on their words. There were many moments where the actors had their backs to the audience, and while this works in some cases, many facial expressions and emotions were hidden from the audience.
It also lacked an aspect of timeliness. The actions weren’t pressing, and it appeared the actors weren’t always motivated to move in the way they did. Sometimes the kitchen setting was lost because there wasn’t the fast-paced ruckus one would expect to see.
“My Mañana Comes” presented a show of peaks and valleys. While the positive aspects were present, the audience wasn’t always involved in what was happening with the characters as seen through drifting eyes and checking of watches. The actors’ energy started low, and the transitions between scenes dragged — adding to the lack of engagement and impatience.
Despite this, the show got better as it went on. With actors new to the stage, it took time for them to feel comfortable in the space, but once they did, the production fell into a stronger groove.
“My Mañana Comes” is a production that feels natural. The show wasn’t attempting to be a mainstage production. Instead, “My Mañana Comes” was trying to tell a story about a real Latino experience, and that’s exactly what it does.
More information about Loyola theater events can be found at www.luc.edu/theatre.