Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 24, No. 43, Ed. 1 Friday, March 21, 2008 Page: 105 of 128
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A cordial relationship
between a homeowner
(Greg Jackson) and his
tenant (Sergio Antonio
Garcia) takes a dark
turn in the "The
A landlord-tenant dispute takes on tragic proportions in T3 premiere
By Arnold Wayne Jones Staff Writer
In the opening moment of "The LaVidas's
Landlord," a ponytailed high school writing
teacher named A1 Mann (Greg Jackson) writes
— and reads aloud — a note to his new tenant,
Carlos LaVida (Sergio Antonio Garcia). Since
Al's job is communication, you wonder why he
has chosen such wiiterly, arch prose with a man
barely fluent in English. The words are fussed
over and prim, like an 18th century epistolary
After a few minutes, you realize that not only
is that intentional but it will not end. Like
"Love Letters," "LaVidas" is that rarity: an
Correspondence can make for dubious dra-
matic action. While plays depend on dialogue,
they also rely a lot of interaction, and at no
point do the actors ever deal directly with each
other; instead, they share missives, their tones
and expressions directed to the audience. (It's
set in 1990, before the digital age, so they don't
even chat, text or e-mail each other.)
Naming the main characters A1 Marin ("a
man") and Carlos LaVida (Spanish for "life") is
akin to calling your protagonist named John Q.
Annalee Jefferies talks with Arnold Wayne
Jones about her multiple roles
— including playing a lesbian
doctor— in Dallas Theater
Center's current production of
"The Blonde, the Brunette
and the Vengeful
Public — whatever point you're trying to make,
you're trying too hard. And there are too many
odd coincidences cental to the plot.
But while this world premiere production
from playwright Lawrence Weinstein is far
from perfect, it's ultimately an enjoyable bit of
theater. Weinstein has cleverly drawn A1 as one
of those unpleasant "liberal guilt" pseudo-
intellectuals who become insufferable. He's
long-winded and self-important, the kind of
touchy-feely schmuck who writes condescend-
ing poems about the glory of immigration
("whether high water or hell come.... I say
'welcome'") and mails them to Carlos. You just
know he tries to impress all his equally self-
righteous friends with tales of the noble refugee
he deigned to rent a house to.
But the play also tacks how close to the sur-
face a mean streak can be. A1 quickly goes from
saying "political victim" to "wetback," and his
unwillingness to admit he's really a slumlord
— his blind conceitedness — is eventually
dooming. The play especially picks up steam in
Act 2, when A1 is forced to deal with Carlos'
attorney (Garcia again), whose uses of legalese
swallows up Al's sanctimonious verse.
Despite some fumbled lines on opening
night (and the distracting sound of moving fur-
niture overhead), director Bruce R. Coleman
pulls evocative performances from Jackson and
Garcia — the latter particularly effective as the
attorney. They find the tragedy inside everyday
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 24, No. 43, Ed. 1 Friday, March 21, 2008, newspaper, March 21, 2008; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239004/m1/105/: accessed June 14, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.