Praise be to anything that gets people to sit in the same place for 90 minutes without inducing itchy Twitter-fingers. The Repertorio Español’s Kiss Bessemer Goodbye (El beso del adiós) is such a play—a delicately crafted Spanish-language piece that delves wittily into the domestic dramas of a middle-class Mexican-American family living in Bessemer, Colorado, in the 1970s. When Lupita arrives in her Tía Chelo’s living room on the eve of her college graduation (the first in the family), she finds her Uncle Joe depressed and unemployed and Uncle Chuy house-proud and boorish. Lupita proceeds to lob a dirty bomb of sorts, announcing that her new paramour is neither a Mexicano nor a gringo, but Japonés. Dios Mío, to say the least.
Directed by Jerry Ruíz, Bessemer witnesses racial and economic tensions swelling and bubbling over as the action of a single day plays out in a single living room. Playwright Tencha Ávila has produced some finely wrought dialogue that finds humor in elegantly simple settings. But the piece’s serious moments are lamentably less textured; if one were to complain of something, it would be Bessemer‘s Pollyannaism and Aesop-ish moments. And a warning to those planning on using the English-language headsets: Don’t. Brush up on your Spanish, ’cause listening to a guy and a gal supply live translation for a cast of six is less than bueno.