I had high hopes heading into the new John Leguizamo one-man show at the Public Theater. I thought it would be not only entertaining, but very interesting and hopefully even educational to learn about the Latino history, which he thought was not taught in our schools.
Leguizamo is obviously talented and driven, and shares his experiences and ideas wrapped with an amazing knack for comic timing and energetic delivery. He explains early on that he originally wrote a “PhD type of thing” while he was researching the history of Latinos in the US, but then “dumbed it down” for the audience. He uses liberal amounts of profanity and vulgar gestures, interspersed with frenetic dances, to connect various dots of mostly military history – and white European and American faults. It was witty and mostly held our attention, but the substance was heavily shaded by the subtext of rights and blame, amplified by the current popular PC anti-Establishment environment. I can’t say I learned a lot.
The audience was not the typical Public subscriber base I’ve seen in the past – we had a section of texters, talkers and even some audible arguments during our performance. The show has been extended and is mostly sold out, so maybe it is appealing to a wider range of theater newcomers (great!) who think this kind of audience behavior is normal (not so great) – or maybe we just had bad luck that day.