It’s not the fault of heterosexual Hispanic males that they’re the way they are: they’re dealing with the same pressures, experiencing the same inadequacies and feeling the same insecurities as the rest of us. In other words, they’re not bad, they’re just complicated in that way. This is the unsurprising yet still vibrant message imparted by “Machos”, the hugely entertaining and very often hilarious new play at Chicago Dramatists from Teatro Luna, Chicago’s only all-Latina theater company. Based on transcripts drawn from numerous interviews with men all across the country, and presented with a “sprinkling” of Spanish, a touch of Tin Pan Alley musicality and Luna’s trademark blend of punchy and poignant humor, the show is performed by the all-female ensemble in drag. And in case you’re wondering, yes they are eerily convincing as members of the opposite sex and yes, you sometimes forget that those scruffy-looking men are really beautiful women. If you have seen any of Luna’s recent efforts, “S-e-x-Oh!” “Quita Mitos” or “Luncatic(a)s,” then the format for “Machos’” exploration of the Hispanic male psyche will be familiar: vignettes, monologues, musical interludes, fluid staging against a simple set with the most subtle of lighting effects and a gallery of overlapping voices as framing device to the entire evening. And although I wonder if it’s possible for Luna’s future output to evolve past the structurally formulaic while still remaining true to their collaborative writing nature and the showcasing of verbatim-based, high-quality text, “Machos” conceiver and Luna Co-Artistic head Coya Paz’s achievement with this show cannot be denied. She has taken some very personal quotes and stories, molded them into aesthetically satisfying living theater, and directed an eight-strong ensemble to interpret and universalize them with heart and compassion (no gratuitous male-bashing here) to spare. It’s highly recommended, and especially for those who may think themselves too “macho” for art. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
At Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago, (773) 878-LUNA. This production is now closed.