Santa Ana, California ~ March 26, 2011. Las Ramonas GONE WILD: a Multimedia Extravaganza (running at Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble on weekends through April 1), performed by Las Ramonas, brings together the best of the universal comic instinct, postmodern Chicana feminism, and hip tech-savvy to produce a highly entertaining, gut-wrenchingly funny, and all-consuming theater experience.
Las Ramonas GONE WILD is two one-act plays, "Mujeres contra la rabia del machismo," and "The Freestyle Afterschool Special," delivered in the multi-media of theater, music, and film.
"Mujeres contra la rabia del machismo" is about two "mad scientists" who operate on a Latino male to get the macho out of him. The guy is depicted as a jealous and womanizing boyfriend. In one scene, we see a Chicana being fiercely interrogated by the boyfriend. In the midst of this, as she suffers a nervous breakdown from the constant abuse, two mad scientists enter and offer--in the tone of T.V. commercial--their help. Once the Chicana accepts, the scientists start a hilarious foot-chase (that reaches the audience seats) with fish nets. Once they trap him, and his girlfriend has his way with him, they set him down on the operating table.
Through the metaphor of the "surgery," the mad scientists diagnose the pathology of machismo as well as treatment prescriptions. This "pathology" includes drinking too much beer which produces a detrimental condition known as Apendejismo. The prescriptions, or "implants," include "books by Gloria Anzaldúa," and a Vegan cookbook.
Las Ramonas make fun, and critique, not just the idiosyncrasies of macho men, but they also take a look at female neurosis and vulnerability to the very type of men that render their lives havoc-ridden. That is, the play never takes a self-righteous stance suggesting that men--in their adherence to patriarchy--are bad, and women, who don't play dominant roles in abusive relationships, are good but rather that women often just as unwilling to let go of abuse, and abusive men, as men are of letting go of abusive, possessive patterns.
After much laughter-filled struggle, the scientists finish their operation on the male Chicano but by then, the girlfriend is no longer so sure she wants him after all. But is this a mistake? After all, the "macho" has indeed been exorcised out of him. Once it’s evident that the newly-reformed man is up for grabs, the “mad scientists’” agenda is exposed.
"The Freestyle Afterschool Special" deals with body image and polar personalities. The play stars two girl cousins who choose very different teen identities. One is an "emo" kid who only wears black and is always depressed. The other cousin listens to "happy" music, talks affectedly, and has a reputation for being "easy" with boys. These cousins seem destined to constant strife until Tia Cha-cha intervenes.
The mysterious aunt spends her free time working on a "top secret project" that she does not share until their nieces' opposite personalities sets them at each others' throats and something must be done. Tia Cha-Cha, like her nieces (in their own way), has quite a personality. She's sexy, mature, and intelligent. And reaching middle-age, she remains true to the fashion statement of her generation, the cha-cha hairstyle characterized by a tall, loud, proud copete, or pompadour. As such, her signature mannerism is waving an Aqua-Net hairspray aerosol around her head to keep the copete stiff.
Over and above the plot and content of these two plays, it's really Las Ramonas' head-and-shoulders-above instinct for comedy, their strong writing, and their seasoned and powerful acting that you will remember. I laughed so hard, I was so enlivened by the staccato-paced action of the performance that I felt anxious to see more and more, until the end.
Las Ramonas GONE WILD is not only worth watching. It's worth watching twice. True to their claim, they'll make you laugh. And in light the zaniness (to put it mildly) of our world, we need all of the comic relief we can manage.
Plan you trip well. At times, the Santa Ana downtown street layout is bizarre. If you get lost, don't be "macho," and ask for help (that's how I got there.)