Don’t start with a fart.
That might not be a tried-and-true rule of comedy, but perhaps it should be. Seconds after the lights come up on the new Off Broadway play Chimichangas and Zoloft and before anyone says a word, a resounding fart echoes through the theater, thus setting the tone for this hard-to-digest production.
The guilty passer of wind is Sonia (Zabryna Guevara), a Mexican-American wife and mother who, after turning 40, abandons her family and self-medicates with anti-depressants and — for reasons not adequately explained in Fernanda Coppel’s script — a diet of too many chimichangas. Jackie (Carmen Zilles), the teenage daughter Sonia left behind, hatches a Parent Trap-like plan with her best friend, Penelope (Xochitl Romero), to bring her mom back home. Meanwhile, Ricardo (Teddy Cañez), Sonia’s career-obsessed husband, forges a new friendship with Penelope’s single father, Alejandro (Alfredo Narciso).
Chimichanga-fueled flatulence aside, excess hot air emanates from Sonia in the form of overwritten monologues about disappointment, depression, and middle age. (”Lately, vodka tastes like tap water and my eyes look like a third world country,” she riffs. ”Oh, and smiling just seems obsolete. My heart feels like a metal weight in my chest, affecting the gravitational pull of my insides and voices of people that died seem to ring in my ears.”) Sonia spews forth flowery language about her misery but offers little real insight on marriage and motherhood, or her reasons for abandoning both.
The chaos that ensues in her absence is only slightly more compelling. Coppel mostly relies on profanity and sex to shock and amuse, but there?s nothing truly surprising about any of the characters or their motivations. Sonia is depressed because she hasn’t accomplished as much as she thought she would by age 40. Ricardo and Alejandro are unfulfilled because they’re repressing a secret. Jackie and Penelope, who talk in grossly exaggerated teenspeak, rebel because their parents don?t pay attention to them. Aside from references to Chicano culture, there?s not much here we haven?t already seen on TV in the ’90s.
Take a lesson from Sonia — pass on this Chimichanga and spare yourself the heartburn and regret. C
Tickets: ticketcentral.com or 212-279-4200