In the history of WaterTower Theatre's Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, some of the most memorable performances have been one-person shows, from monologue and cabaret to solo performance and plays, including outstanding turns from Mike Daisey, David Lee Nelson and Paden Fallis, among others. This year is filled with them, too, from Kevin J. Thornton's stand-up/solo performance Strange Dreamz to Charlie Ross' One Man Lord of the Rings and Diana Sheehan's fantastic cabaret Midway (albeit with three musicians on the latter).
Continuing the tradition is one of this year's Loop highlights—and what will surely be remembered among the best of the best in years to come—Guillermo Verdecchia's Fronteras Americanas, given an insightful, funny and engaging performance by local actor David Wilson-Brown. The show, produced under the banner of W.B. Spotlight Productions, is directed by Dennis Maher, who's on the theater faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington.
The title of this show, a play that incorporates several fourth wall-breaking performance styles, translates to "American Borders." Considering the Spanish of the title, you'd assume it's referring to the U.S.-Mexico border. And while that's part of it, the show ultimately transcends many borders—geographically and metaphorically—on our side of the globe, from Canada to Chile.
The main character is the playwright, Verdecchia, who was born in Argentina but became a Canadian citizen when his parents moved to Kitchener, Ontario, when he was 2 years old. His travels in the show cover the Americas, including the squeaky clean Dallas 'burbs of Highland Park and Addison (those were added to localize it), as well as Chile and Argentina, and to other Western locales, like Paris, France.
He recounts those experiences, but the character changes to play with stereotypes, such as a Mexican drug lord and a 19th century bandito. He references Augosto Pinochet, Taco Bell, West Side Story, Pablo Escobar and Chico and the Man, frequently using video projections to illustrate a point, like a professor in a lecture hall. One particularly amusing segment deals with the history of the built-for-pleasure "Latin Lover" in Hollywood, from Rudolph Valentino to Javier Bardem, and how one high-profile American magazine story on that subject erroneously spelled cojones as cajones. Man, those are some big crates.
In another humorous section, the dancing skills of "Saxon" men are skewered, as Wilson-Brown demonstrates how effortless the hip-swiveling should be in salsa and that famous, forbidden dance of Latin American origin, the tango.
Latino? Hispanic? Which one do you use? That's another subject addressed, as is the reason you shouldn't give an avocado to a ferret. You'll just have to see it.
Some of the jokes we've heard before, but not with this delivery, and certainly not in this kind of framework. They work because of the high-energy and charismatic performance of Wilson-Brown, who navigates the playwright's tone shifts with ease.
He crosses performance borders, and the audience is willing to follow him wherever he travels.
◊ To see a complete schedule of shows and venues, go here.
◊ WaterTower is streaming several shows and events at Out of the Loop. To watch them on our site, click the US Stream icon at the top of this page. It will open a separate tab. The streaming schedule is also included there.