Monday, March 10, 2008

An Evening Out

For my birthday, Ron took me out to dinner at Merkado, then to the Studio Theatre production of All That I Will Ever Be. First the restaurant, then the play.

The chips and salsa are fabulous. And they will bring you seconds. One of the great items at Merkado is the Black Bean Soup. It is full of garlic and a wonderful bean soup taste. It's a real rib sticker. My fave on the menu is the Pork Quesadilla. This isn't your usual quesadilla. It's full of shredded pork and Mexican cheese rolled in a flaky flour tortilla, and served with green tomatillo salsa, and a red salsa. The presentation is a knockout. Ron's entree was Grilled Tilapia served with a Vera Cruz sauce and a tasty seasoned rice. (I ate some of his food, so I know it was tasty.) The Banana Taquito with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream is a killer way to end the meal.

And the play. You may want to see the play (it runs through March 23) before you read this review. Or, you may want to read the review in the Washington Post, then go see the play. A sign in the theatre lobby reads:

"All That I Will Ever Be contains mature themes, explicit language, sexual situations, simulated violence, nudity and smoking of non-tobacco cigarettes."

Let me parse that for you. Mature themes include bisexuality, homosexuality, racism, prostitution, drug use, cell phone marketing, and psychotherapeutic navel gazing. Explicit languages means, "Fuck." Sexual situations include a rousing, bronc-busting, dirty-talking, ass-pounding sexual simulation between two men over a very modern living room chair. Kind of like something I would do if I weren't so concerned about what kind of condition it would leave the furniture. Simulated violence occurs twice: once when the two lead characters get into a fight with each other, and another time when an "outcall" goes sadly awry for the customer. Nudity occurs throughout the production, and certainly makes the ticket price less dear. The above-mentioned sexual situation, and the hot tub are the most memorable instances, but skin is displayed in other situations, too. Smoking of non-tobacco cigarettes may have occured onstage, but the "simulated"(?) pot smoking in two of the scenes took me back to my days at the University of Idaho. Lots of smoke gets generated onstage.

The production is entertaining and funny, but it lacks heart. I could never connect emotionally with the two main characters, one of whom is a pathological liar (Omar, played by Carlos Candelario), and the other who is a whiny, spoiled, druggy who can't get on with his life (Dwight, played by Parker Dixon). Both characters are finely played, but ultimately, I didn't care about either of them. I did like looking at them, though. And if Omar has to be a prostitute, I'd let him work my neighborhood.

Other strong performances include Cynthia (played by Leayne Freeman) who is one badass girl on her way to the top, regardless of the consequences. Phil (played by Steve Nixon) is a wonderfully disgusting sleazy producer. Finally, Chris Dinolfo gives strong emotional depth to his character, Eddie, when Eddie tries to pay off his Puerto Rican stallion in an evening gone wrong.

High cheesecake factor for gay men, great simulated sex and drug use, a final dramatic scene that has you talking about the play when you leave the theatre. Don't expect high drama, but do enjoy the show.