I Am Not Your Perfect Play Critic

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Sherielyn Bannister during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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How do you cope when your perfect sister gets hit by a semi truck? And what are you supposed to do when you find out about the double life she was living? How can you ever tell your parents that their perception of their perfect daughter was totally wrong and now you have to carry the burden of a secret that will eventually eat you up inside? And eventually have to navigate through life and plans that come with the hardships of being a young adult, who wants nothing more than to be independent and to live a lifelong dream of being a writer? The truth is no one knows except for Julia Reyes, from the book and play titled I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by “Erika Sánchez”. Julia is a young person of color, which was something many people in the audience could relate to.

The story follows Julia after her older sister, Olga, passed away. Julia and everyone around her saw Olga as the perfect Mexican daughter, who was hardworking, pure of heart, and dutiful to her parents. That's what Julia thought until she found out Olga's secrets after snooping in her bedroom. The depiction of family and friend relationships and hardships were so realistic that it felt like people in the audience were watching real people go through real problems, the acting especially of Julia’s mother played by Jazmín Corona, struck the audience by capturing the strong emotions Julia's mother had to go through with Julia, Amá resonated with many people because of the accurate representation of many mothers everywhere. Another audience favorite was the friendship between Lorena and Juanga, played by Marco Antonio Tzunux and Leslie Sophia Pérez. Their friendship and how they showed they cared for each other and Julia was realistic and relatable, it enthralled the audience because it showed such a fun and dynamic friendship you can see young adults have, in one scene where they became friends after a compliment made by Juanga to Lorena because of her boots, which led to them finding out other interests they shared and becoming best friends.

The portrayal of young adult problems and important issues were shown in a way that was not too graphic but still was able to emotionally connect and impact the audience with an emotional plot that covered serious problems. A perfectly somber ambience was made solely by props, music and lighting that engaged the audience in serious scenes, which the plot and acting only enhanced and unconsciously immersed the audience. Although the emotional scenes were immersive, they were balanced by light hearted and fun; moments that made the crowd laugh and cringe but in a good way.

Usually when people say that books are better than movies it's like, we get it, you read. But this was an exception. Julia Reyes in the book was depicted as someone who was always miserable and very melancholy, and somewhat serious, however it felt like Julia was portrayed as unserious and unnecessarily over the top for some scenes that it felt like it shouldn't have. Which eventually got better as the play went on, it could have been intended for character development to show Julia's growth which would make it more understandable, since tone and the audience's perception of characters are widely different, it may vary to many different people in the audience.

From the perfect portrayal and acting of characters that brought them to life, and the relationships of friends and family. To serious issues that many people and young adults go through everyday, and the funny, cringe-y and lighthearted scenes that charmed the audience and the portrayal of growth shown in a unique way that an audience might resonate with. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a play worth watching, especially towards young adults who want to see realistic theater they can relate to and enjoy and unlock a world of theater they might love.

Karen Rodriguez in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Rep. Photo by Nate Watters.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

This review was written as part of an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School in Emily Acquino's Language Arts classes, taught by Press Corps teaching artists Beth Pollack and Marquicia Dominguez.

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