Family Fun Twin Cities was given tickets to enjoy The House on Mango Street on the new Andy Boss Thrust Stage at Park Square Theatre, so Chris and I had a date. We asked some friends to babysit, we fed everyone (including the babysitters) pizza, and off we went. It was an experience I’m not likely to forget soon.
Let me first say, it was a thrill to be at the first play on the Andy Boss Thrust Stage. It was so new that it looked like they still had some finishing touches to do in the seating area, but the 290 seats were comfortable without a bad one in the house.
The House on Mango Street is about a girl named Esperanza who settled with her family in a small red house in a Chicago barrio in the 1960’s. Little vignettes pulled together most of the story, and it was fairly easy to follow. The writer threw in pieces of poetry and prose that were hard to follow, but if you are not concrete sequential like I am and can just go with it, you will probably enjoy it greatly.
It’s a coming of age story which forewarned me that there might be disturbing images. I, however, being of sound mind and forgetful spirit thought it had said “delightful story,” so unfortunately I was shocked by the climax of the story.
Eight actors comprised the cast. Alejandra Cecilia Tobar Alatriz played a very convincing young Esperanza not leaving the stage once portraying sweet innocence personified. Adlyn Carreras played the mature Esperanza who was on the stage for the entire play as well. We heard the insights of what she had experienced on Mango Street as well as the details of the story. The other six actors made up the ALL other characters –their costumes the first clue of who they were as well as how they carried themselves.
With humor and gentleness, the cast invited you to use your imagination to bring this play to life. They made a bicycle out of two chairs and a stool. They built a car out of humans, rode on an imaginary bus and imaginary yellow cadillac and ripped your heartstrings out at the carnival’s tilt-a-wheel that you never saw.
This was the part I want to warn you about without giving it away.
The climax took my breath away at the same time I was cowering behind my hands peeking through my fingers. It’s heavy, intense and dark. The lights dim to a very low and eery setting. The music grows heavier and more somber. There is moaning and shrieking until you feel a pounding and hear a loud ripping sound. I wanted to scream and look away, but I couldn’t do either.
Just like in real life, no one bounces out of significant tragedies. And we walk with Esperanza, whose name means hope, as she seeks hope for her life.
It was extremely well-done! But it was gut wrenching to watch especially for a mom with girls.
This is a very adult play. Park Square Theatre recommends this play for adults, teens and tweens; I, however, do not recommend it for children younger than sixteen. With that said, you know your child better than I do.
Here’s a preview that was done by another theatre.
The House on Mango Street
Written by Sandra Cisneros; Adapted by Amy Ludwig; Directed by Dipankar Mukherjee
October 21-November 9, 2014
Park Square Theatre