Sweet 15 (Quinceñera), Mixed Blood’s latest bilingual production, is a very silly play with an implausible plot and a contrived ending—and yet, it’s saved by exuberant performances by some very talented and physical actors.
|sweet 15, a play written by rick najera and directed by mark valdez. presented by mixed blood theatre through march 22 at the history theatre, 30 10th st. e., st. paul. for tickets ($11-$30) and information, see mixedblood.com.|
The premise of the story is that Eddy Valderama, played by Raúl Ramos, returns to his wife, daughter and mother in law after a 15-year absence in order to give his daughter the quinceañera he promised her. A quinceañera is a party given to a girl when she is 15 years old, so his daughter, Sonora, played by Camila Borrero, is understandably baffled since she is 25 years old. Valderama, who is now a very wealthy man, also plans to by his family’s forgiveness.
What follows is a series of farcical events as Valderama tries to throw the party, win back his wife and daughter’s affection, and stay alive (his old enemy is out to get him).
The play works best when it veers from the weak plot. Brian Sostek is hilarious as Jorge Rodriguez, the quinceañera planner who tries desperately to make the party a success despite the fact that he has gambled away the budget. He informs the audience that we are to be the extra guests at the party, and he has to dance the Aztec and Ballet Folklorico numbers himself when the real performers unexpectedly “cancel.”
Dario Tangelson steals the show as Fernando Cahuenga, an ex-telenovela star who Jorge hires for the event. Tangelson is wonderfully sleazy, and on Saturday’s performance had the audience rolling in the aisles when Fernando gets so drunk he throws up on Sonora’s lap and loses his toupee in the process.
Raúl Ramos and Camila Borrero do their best with the few moments where the reunited husband and wife get to develop their relationship. Borrero in particular is able to portray a vulnerable and strong character with the lines she is given. The two actors have great chemistry together, and there is a sweetness to their reunion—which makes it easier to overlook the fact that she is taking him back for a half-million dollars.
Sweet 15 is an enjoyable production—if you just don’t think too much. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the comedy.
Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo.