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Reviews

SPIC CHIC

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Presented by and at Nuyorican Poet's Café, 236 E. Third St., NYC, July 25-Aug. 3.

Luis Chaluisan is a born storyteller. His gift for capturing the heart and soul of each character he portrays is not only convincing, but also inspiring. His latest collection of solo portraits is titled "Spic Chic," and has been touring various venues around town. It made its latest stop at the Nuyorican Poets Café, where the performance was rousingly received, before moving on to stops at Raw Space and a possible move out West.

The show is full of humor, insight, poetry, and Puerto Rican pride. Chaluisan's smooth-talking narrator introduces the various vignettes with articulate wit and wisdom. One is a heartfelt homage to the original poets of the Nuyorican venue. Chaluisan then tells about a wild day at Amherst College filled with tales of drug-dealing and terrorist acts. He later recalls a confrontation involving a television reporter and the Ku Klux Klan. An hysterical tale of a "one-legged pistol-packing former call girl who tries to save her marriage with a bank robbery" is the highlight of the evening, with Chaluisan limping around with a bum leg and winning sympathy as a woman trying desperately to keep her life from spinning out of control.

Director Petronia Paley's staging of the vignettes is smart and savvy, and the transitions in between come off as smooth as silk. The uncredited lighting is instrumental in setting the mood of each locale. But it is Chaluisan who really shines in this play, showing a diverse range of emotion and attitude. He gives each of his characters not only a distinct vocal style, but also a specific physicalization, which combine to bring each persona to vivid life. His unique voice as a writer clearly displays his poetic influences, his uncanny ear for dialogue, and his completely original sense of humor. It won't be long before Chaluisan is telling his tales to a wider audience.

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