Reviews Off-Broadway Published 22 October 2012

I Hate Fucking Mexicans

Flea Theater ⋄ 9th October - 4th November 2012

Obscene or outstanding?

Molly Grogan

Tired of politically correct niceties? Ever dreamed of joining your local chapter of the KKK? This could be the play for you. But think again…

As its title suggests, I Hate Fucking Mexicans isn’t exactly shy about expressing an opinion, and the more reactionary the better. Its author, Luis Enrique Gutiérrez Ortiz Monasterio, who goes by the acronym LEGOM, doesn’t hold a punch in his depiction of white trash Texans being overrun by “those fucking bean eaters,” to say it nicely. In fact, LEGOM’s crudely drawn characters, from Nigerians to Mexicans to Americans, don’t have much at all to say that is nice, much less intelligent, preferring to spew a particularly vulgar stream of racist vitriol that would make Archie Bunker blush and Rush Limbaugh turn green with jealousy. But if that were the point of this 60-minute diatribe, the production would surely be up on charges of hate speech.

Fortunately for LEGOM, Danya Taymor’s alert and resourceful direction gives the production two strong legs to stand on. Taymor has drawn distinct characters from the text’s original stream-of-consciousness flow and constructs these into a comic strip-like chorus of risibly blatant stereotypes, from smooth-operator foreigners and welfare-cheating immigrants to flag-waving hillbillies and saviour-sighting religious fanatics. Their invective stings, but only as long as a wet-towel snap; the accumulated effect of so much ignorance  in the mouths of such abject abusers is self-deflating and searingly funny. The astute addition of a choreographed opening binds the ensemble into a whole that is greater than these shallow parts and hints at more profound meaning behind all the insults.

Indeed, I Hate… has its nuances, and therein lies its power to fascinate. For starters, it is impossible to cry out in anger against the “cat-eating Koreans,” the “equatorial Afghanistans” and the “Mexican Asians” and not come across as a total and irrecuperable imbecile. If the text is utterly odious on a first-level reading, it is so caustically ironic as to be almost cathartic. Among characters seemingly intent on winning a contest to be the most abhorrent bigot ever, LEGOM imagines a scorching survival of the fittest, where the unapologetically reprehensible, and not the “sickest” survive, and in this there is a strange kind of relief.

But the main double entendre of the play rests on the question of who precisely is being ridiculed. LEGOM is a highly visible and influential writer in his native Mexico, where I Hate… was not his greatest success by either popular or critical standards. No surprise: his treatment of his fellow countrymen deliberately touches a raw nerve, even among audiences accustomed to the cultural and social stereotypes he inflates. However, it quickly becomes clear, in Taymor’s production at least, that the play is far less concerned with the “Mexicans” so demeaned in the title than the “I”  who hates: if LEGOM targets a fantasized tribe of inbred, dim-witted Southern xenophiles, the sheer weight of the repeated, coarse epithets that are tossed around by all characters, no matter their color or culture, makes clear that racial slurs and suspicion come naturally to humans across the board. In the end, it is hatred, and not Mexicans or even Texans, that is the author’s real preoccupation.

No matter what audiences might take away from the production, the play scores a tangible knockout, to judge from the “deer-in-the-headlights” expressions in the seats on the night I attended. Taymor is aided in the Flea’s endeavor by the five-strong cast, who portray a multitude of despicable characters with bushels of bravado, led by Layla Khoshnoudi in the savagely filthy role of the incestuous, unloved, but disturbingly perceptive narrator, Tamara-Lee.


Molly Grogan

Molly Grogan covered French and international theater for 20 years in Paris. She has written on theater for The Village Voice and American Theater and managed an Off-Broadway theater company. She is a translator of fiction and non-fiction with a Ph.D. in Francophone postcolonial literature and a Masters in social linguistics.

I Hate Fucking Mexicans Show Info


Directed by Danya Taymor

Written by Luis Enrique Gutiérrez Ortiz Monasterio (LEGOM)

Choreography by Tymberly Canale

Cast includes Janice Amaya, Cristin Eve Cato, Ugo Chukwu, John Paul Harkins, Layla Khoshnoudi, Abraham Makany, Adriano Shaplin, Michelle Silvani

Link
Show Details & Tickets

Running Time 1 hr (with no intermission)


the
Exeunt
newsletter


Enter your email address below to get an occasional email with Exeunt updates and featured articles.