Strong Family Time in The Old Globe’s Funny and Emotional ‘Stir’

Joel Perez and Melinda Lopez. (photos courtesy of Rich Soublet II).

Joel Perez and Melinda Lopez. (photos courtesy of Rich Soublet II).

Losing a family member is often difficult to process. Some are open about their grief, while others try to move on as soon as possible from the tragic events.

The passing of the matriarch in a Puerto Rican/Cuban family is the focus of The Old Globe’s excellent world-premiere comedy-drama, Stir.

Set in April 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, a gay unemployed graphic designer, Henry (Joel Perez), lives with his upbeat dad, Papi (Al Rodrigo), in his retirement home in Orlando, Florida. Henry attempts to make his mom’s signature Cuban black beans with the help of his accountant sister living in Ithaca, New York, Mariana (Melinda Lopez), on Zoom.

While Henry is heartbroken and very open about discussing his feelings regarding the death of his mom, Mariana tries to be strong during this difficult period.

The synopsis may sound like a potential downer, but the script (an earlier version was called The Black Beans Project) from Lopez and Perez is frequently hilarious. Plenty of irreverent and occasionally raunchy humor comes from the way the siblings bond and bicker. It feels like an authentic familial relationship whether the characters are getting into a comical mini argument, or finding themselves dancing and singing the words to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.”

Their script finds a seamless balance between comical and serious moments, which is relatable to most families. I got so invested in the lives of the siblings and Papi, that I found myself tearing up during the final moments of the show.

Joel Perez, Melinda Lopez, and Al Rodrigo.

Joel Perez, Melinda Lopez, and Al Rodrigo.

Lopez and Perez’s performances are just as excellent as their writing, especially when they cook real food on Diggle’s set. They flawlessly portray equally funny and empathetic adults who are still growing as people. Rodrigo is also charismatic and moving as Papi, particularly when Henry and Mariana’s dad becomes more crucial to the tale in the last section of the production.

Marcela Lorca’s direction combines genuine conversations with magical realism. One of the best scenes from Lorca and the crew is a beautiful one where Henry and Mariana play a game of virtual dominoes as Papi gives a speech about how he met his wife. Lorca uses soothing lighting from Cha See and music that incorporates Fabian Obsipo’s audio for a powerful sequence focused on a long-lasting and loving marriage.

Diggle’s scenic design ties into the combination of fantasy and reality since the staging begins with Henry and Mariana on opposite sides of the space in two different homes. As the piece continues, both begin to move freely around the stage, which symbolizes the strengthened connection between the brother and sister.

Stir is a heartfelt play that does not waste a single moment of its 80-minute runtime at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre. Lopez and Perez’s compassionate messages about grief and togetherness should ring true for most audience members.


Show times are Thursdays at 7:00 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm, Tuesday at 7:00 pm, and Wednesday at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm.

1 A B C D E G I J L M N O P Q R S T U W
Photo of The Old Globe
The Old Globe
1363 Old Globe Way San Diego CA 92101 USA Work Phone: 619-23-Globe (234-5623) Website: The Old Globe website
Categories: Uncategorized
Return to top.

Leave a Comment