Good laughs not enough to save a weak start

June 28, 2016

Selena Valadez/ tejano tribune

(L-R) Joaquin Castaneda as Tucker Johnson, Gabriel Naime as Isidora (Izzy) in a bar scene.

 

Written by Stephanie Karr and Mark Watts, El Paso Community College’s, Boots, shows promise by drawing in a curious crowd opening night. 


With an amazing set, it is easy for the audience to be transported to the fictitious Western bar of the same name. It is the attention to detail that makes it all the more convincing.


The play begins by immediately introducing us to Gaby, played by Lauren Mendoza, a dedicated bartender, and her friend TJ, played by Joaquin Castaneda, who is a regular customer at boots. 


Initially, the pace commences quite slow. 


TJ and Gaby are later joined by TJ’s childhood friend Miguel, played by Cesar Hernandez, and a few other characters such as Dixie, played by Fernanda Antoine; JB, played by Javi De La Hoz; Wanda, played by Kaylynne Brandon; the stuck-up Izzy, played by Gabriel Naime and her uptight accountant Charles, played by Brandon Kerker.

 
As the story progresses, we learn that Izzy is considering transforming the bar into a sushi restaurant. Upon hearing the news, TJ and Miguel concoct a plan to deceive Izzy into losing the bar. 


Knowing that she is driven by greed, the two convince Izzy that there is oil present, and thus an opportunity for her to make millions. There is only one problem; she does not own the mineral rights to the surrounding land.

 

Therefore, cannot drill into it. 


This is where TJ comes in. He is willing to sell the rights to Izzy –knowing that the land is actually bone-dry. Thus, using her greed against her.


All seems to go well until Wanda takes it upon herself to get involved. Using Izzy’s own accountant against her, Wanda coaxes Charles into buying the property that Izzy will later need in order to carry out her plan for riches. 


Surprisingly, this plays out well. Charles takes the bait. It’s almost too good to be true until we discover Miguel’s true intentions. 


It is no coincidence that he was the one who brought about the scheme in the first place. From there, one can only hope that TJ unravels the truth before it is too late.

 

While the play as a whole did not succeed in making me feel invested, there were a few aspects that really elevated it. 


Although Wanda was more of a supporting character, Brandon’s performance managed to shine through and prove that there really are no small parts, only small actors. 


Another well-executed performance was that of Castaneda, who managed to make his character’s concern for the bar believable. 


One element that was interesting was that of The Stranger, played by Terrill Cartwright, who helped make the transition between scenes smoother with his witty commentary of current situations.  


Although the play began slow, it gained momentum during Act II. 


As a result, the jokes were executed much better once the show came to a close.


Although it managed to hit the nail on the head when it came to set and props, I left Boots much like a few of its characters –empty-handed. 


Its sexual innuendos did succeed in conjuring up a good amount of laughter, but was still not enough to change my impression of the play.


I give the production a 3 out of 5 stars.

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