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New York Theater

Momma's Boyz

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Cándido Tirado's Momma's Boyz begins with the end of a journey: A young man known simply as Mimic stands by the coffin containing the body of his friend Shine. Mimic ponders the events that have led to this sad end and swears that if it were possible, he would turn back time to ensure that Shine doesn't fall prey to the bullet fired by their friend and fellow drug dealer Thug.

From this opening, Tirado's promising humor-infused drama works backward chronologically to the moment when Thug, hungry for the finer things in life but not too bright (played with dim menace by Jesús Martínez), invites Mimic and Shine to join him in the drug trade.

Although performed in Spanish with only adequate simultaneous translation, Tirado's gift for smart, streetwise dialogue is apparent. Even more impressive are the comedic dichotomies he gives his characters and with which he infuses what might otherwise have been stereotypical situations. For instance, Shine, a shrewd capitalist at heart (played by a winning Janio Marrero), banters with his buyers about their families and maintains a "buy 10 get one free" policy, all to ensure customer loyalty. This loyalty is just one factor leading to the animosity between Shine and Thug.

Equally amusing are the moments when Mimic's life as an aspiring actor brushes up against his life as a drug dealer. It's here that Flaco Navaja as Mimic capitalizes beautifully on the play's comic conceits.

Despite the trio of well-crafted performances, Tirado's script, which he has also directed, becomes overly labored in its backward progression. For this morality play with a sentimental yet satisfying twist to achieve maximum impact, the director would be wise to talk his playwright into a few judicious trims.

Presented by and at Repertorio Español 138 E. 27th St., NYC. May 11-June 11. Schedule varies. (212) 225-9920 or www.repertorio.org.

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