John Leguizamo’s sixth one-man show Latin History for Morons is an amazingly funny and honest look into the ongoing “adulting” of the actor and writer. If you’ve followed his plays as I have, you will know that his earlier work was filled with fantastical characters of his own imagination, influenced by John’s life and story, but with just enough surreal quality so as to have deniability, and safe “separation” between the man and the character. His latest works, including Ghetto Klown and Sexaholix, have evolved from “characters” to real life auto-biographical stories where you know John is providing an open window into his soul. Latin History for Morons opens the window even wider.
Here, John moves us beyond his life as an actor to his life as a father. He confesses his challenges in trying to raise children in a socio-economic level that is new to him, with the added responsibility of instilling cultural pride in bi-racial children in a world that has seemingly erased the presence of Latinos from the history of the continent.
John’s approach is unapologetic and aggressive. He gives a stunning depiction of how being “invisible” in history can have an effect on the self esteem of children of color, even ones with privilege. The content is so good, and even militant at times, that the audience can’t help but shout in agreement and even throw up some clenched fists of solidarity during the show. Those of us who’ve taken a Latin American or Latino History course at University will recognize some of his sourcing – including Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” But this show is not to educate us…we are there to support the effort…the show is for those whose idea of American history starts with the Mayflower.
The best social critiques are done with humor, and Leguizamo’s humor is solid. In classic Leguizamo form, his storytelling is captivating and his ability to flawlessly move from character to character keeps you interested the full 100 minutes (without intermission – so skip the pre-game drinks). The night I saw the show he had just recovered from illness, and while now well passed his “mambo mouth” years, he can still dance and move like he is Loco Louie – just all grown up.
Latin History is the continuation of the diversity revolution happening on Broadway, proving yet again that shows starring and about people of color can be both relevant and successful. Whereas the revolution in Hamilton was to allow people of color to see themselves as inheritors of American history, Leguizamo goes even further, to remind us that we have been there the entire time. This is a show worthy of your support. Don’t miss out.
Written and Starring – John Leguizamo
Director – Tony Taccone
Playing at Studio 54 in NYC
Run: Now till Feb 4th (Nov 15th Official Opening)