Moxie’s ‘Notes on Killing…’ Intelligently Explores Colonialism and Gender

William BJ Robinson and Christine Carmela (photos courtesy of Daren Scott).

William BJ Robinson and Christine Carmela (photos courtesy of Daren Scott).

A controversial U.S. federal law involving the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico is PROMESA, which stands for the Puerto Rican Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act. Enacted in 2016, the law was created “to monitor Puerto Rico’s spending and oversee debt restructuring.”

However, plenty of people have criticized PROMESA as an additional reason why many refer to Puerto Rico as a colony.

The law, and those enforcing it, help drive the conflict in Moxie Theatre’s strong co-production, with Diversionary Theatre, of the play, Notes on Killing Seven Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board Members.

Taking place at the reception foyer of a Wall Street office (showcased on Reiko Huffman’s set) “anytime from 2016 onwards,” the daughter, Lolita (Christine Carmela), of a late Puerto Rican activist, is determined to stop colonization and is potentially planning on killing the oversight board members with a gun.

The receptionist (William BJ Robinson) convinces Lolita to act out her plan in the style of a drag show with a pink gun that only shoots blanks. Lolita pretends to talk and shoot the board members as the receptionist plays each of them in a highly theatrical way.

As you likely figured out, this is a tough narrative to describe because of how Mara Vélez Meléndez mixes a very serious topic with comedy. But, she pulls it off with engaging characters, satire, and social commentary. Meléndez not only comments on the colonial history of Puerto Rico, but also discusses gender since Lolita is a trans woman and the receptionist was born as male and is continuing with an ongoing journey of gender exploration.

While the script is consistently engaging and unpredictable, there is a lot to take in, since Meléndez devotes a good amount of time to almost all the committee members. An intermission could help theatregoers process certain elements of the plot, especially after the receptionist pretends to be the first couple of board members.

William BJ Robinson and Christine Carmela.

William BJ Robinson and Christine Carmela.

Andréa Agosto directs larger-than-life scenes with plenty of clever visual touches and sensitively stages conversations where Lolita and the receptionist talk about their lives. The more serious discussions between the central duo allow the audience to become invested in their goals.

Carmela and Robinson make a winning team, especially as Lolita and the receptionist’s friendship develops. They excel with both the humor in the fantastical drag sequences and with the dramatic moments as the pair opens up to each other.

In addition to the wonderful work from Agosto and the cast, the drag segments largely stand out because of Amber St. James’ entertaining choreography, Regan A. McKay’s unique costumes, and colorful lighting from Nayeli Bailey. Rai Feltmann’s audio also adds to the fun tone with songs from artists such as Rhianna and Dolly Parton.

Notes on Killing… is a unique theatrical experience, with perfectly cast co-leads and standout work from the creative and technical team. Besides providing plenty of laughs and powerful dramatic moments, Meléndez’s tale should inspire many to learn more about Puerto Rico’s history and how it continues to affect the present.

Show times are Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday at 8:00 pm, Saturday at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 2:00 pm.

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Moxie Theatre
6663 El Cajon Blvd. Suite N San Diego CA 92115 USA Work Phone: 858-598-7620 Website: Moxie Theatre website
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