Prague Fringe 2018
In excerpts from news broadcasts, we see then-candidate Donald Trump announce that Mexico is not sending its best. Some of the characters speaking to us from the barely furnished stage of Divadlo Inspirace, all portrayed by Rachel Lopez, will agree with him, while others are vehemently opposed to such inflammatory generalisations. There are some firm opinions but no interaction, debate or development.
When a one-woman show about recent events feels outdated, it may well be a sign of how quickly we consume (and digest, albeit sometimes with a mild reflux) breaking news today. It is an unfortunate casualty of the fast-paced turnover of news stories, but it is a casualty nonetheless.
In “A Taco Truck on Every Corner…or Dreaming in English”, taking its name from a shocking but also pretty funny statement made by one of Donald Trump’s rare Latino supporters (namely, that America needs a big wall on its border, lest there be a taco truck on every corner), Rachel Lopez dons different shoes and outfits to portray half a dozen characters living in the contemporary United States.
All the characters have firm opinions, and all of them think they are right. Their opinions range from those of a pro-gun, anti-“Obummer” fire-breather who still rails against Benghazi to those of timid undocumented immigrants who love America but are not unaccepted by a wide swathe of the country. We’re told upfront that the characters all have their origins in real life, and they are certainly credible, even though they mostly parrot political talking points, memes and buzzwords (“race-baiting” is a favourite) disseminated on Twitter.
As a mosaic of the chaotic living situation in the United States at present, the play is effective, particularly for those who might not be following every beat of the tidal wave of news breaking on its shores every day. However, because it takes a while to figure out who all six characters are or represent (not all of them are forthcoming with personal details), the final product, which includes superfluous bits of news reports, is a bit of a mess. But then, perhaps that is where we are today: It’s only been a little more than a year, and yet talk of the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and the selection of Jim Mattis as Secretary of Defense already feels like a lifetime ago.
But it is unclear exactly who the target audience is. Those who are also on their phone checking the latest news updates are likely to yawn at the opinions here. By contrast, the characters’ views are so divergent that the lack of any real context, presentation or connecting tissue might make it difficult (especially for the politically uninitiated) to follow what is going on or where the play is heading.
Anyone looking for a taste of the acrimony among the American populace might learn something from this show, but just like the country, it needs a bit of work to achieve a more perfect union of its various parts.