Living Large in a Mini Kind of Way

On Thursday night, my boyfriend and I spontaneously made a voyage to Roscoe Village, specifically the Viaduct Theatre, nestled in by that useless overpass thing on North Western Avenue. The Viaduct is conveniently located, but not for me who can’t tell east from west sometimes, and led us at least a mile in the wrong way. So, we arrived an embarrassing 10 minutes late to Teatro Luna’s production of Living Large in a Mini Kind of Way, written and directed by Diana Rodriguez. Nevertheless, we were shuffled in to the theater and quickly found a seat- but not before I almost ran directly into a waist-high table. You know me, I like to make an entrance.
Table aside, we sat down in the middle of on-stage bickering between Lilly, played by Issabel Quintero, and Big Maria, played by Miranda Gonzales. The play focused on two pairs of Mexican sisters, Lilly and Nellie (Sandra Marquez), and Big Maria and Little Maria (Amanda delaGuardia). Lilly and Nellie, the older of the two pairs, feel confident in their assimilation into American life and culture, but The Marias (yup, two sisters with the same name) remain undocumented, struggle with English, and can’t seem to wrap their heads around Lilly and Nellie’s lifestyles. Nellie and her husband Sammy (Madrid St. Angelo) criticize Lilly for trying to help the Marias, even though it wasn’t so long ago that Nellie and Lilly were in a similar situation. Throughout the play, lots of laughs cover stories of pain, particularly for the protagonist Lilly, who hides her overdue bills and convoluted financial affairs in a closet, unwilling to deal with the results of her husband’s recent passing. The story is familiar, and the characters are both relatable and quirky. Nellie, with her outfits fit for a 14 year old and her whine, is the perfect compliment to Sammy, who couldn’t be more sleazy. Their visits to Lilly’s house, where the majority of the play takes place, bring color and laughs to the entire show. And The Marias have pinned the sister dynamic perfectly, picking back and forth in Spanglish, all the while dressed head to toe in velour. Lilly, with her over-the-top antics and desperate desire to show everyone that she is fine, effectively goes the motions of prosperity, happiness, and comfort, but shows her softer side in her relationship with The Marias and her struggle to grieve her dead husband.

Overall, I really enjoyed the show, although it wasn’t my favorite of Teatro Luna’s productions. I love supporting and seeing the work of Teatro Luna, the only all Latina theater company in the country, even when they do go outside of their usual premises, both physically by performing in another theater, and in that their cast included a male this time around. I do wish that the storyline about the Social Security Number (alluded to through tagline of the play- “What would you do for 9 little numbers that could change your life?”) had been slightly more developed through the first half of the play, since it was hard at first to tell where everything was going. Granted, I missed the first 5 minutes or more of the show, so there was likely something early on that I didn’t see. Overall, a fun night out, with a real-life twist that brought an important theme to the forefront of the minds of audience members.