Teen Struggles and Lessons for Parents

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

Written by Liya Haile during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

3 MD Rehearsal 1

Parents may have a favorite child whom they consider to be “perfect,” which might make the other child feel unwanted or excluded. In the play, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, we see Julia, the main character in the book, feel this way after her older sister Olga died. Her parents see Olga as a model kid that loves spending time with her family, and helps her mom with household chores. Julia on the other hand was the opposite, always making trouble, likes being out with friends and is lazy. Julia feels imperfect compared to Olga. Her parents encourage her to be more like Olga than herself. Even though she likes doing good things such as writing, reading, and poems, they were not supportive. Later on Julia finds unexpected things in Olga's room, doubts her sister's sanity, and keeps figuring out more. The story continues with Julia discovering her sister’s true colors.

The play succeeds at using the lights, transitions, and sound effects. When doing transitions, the light was on the character so your attention goes to where they want you to see, and not the thing they get in and out of the stage with. There was a circle on the ground that spun which I thought was cool because it helps with getting the thing out and the characters don't have to move around a lot because the thing spins making it look like they are moving around.

Another thing the play succeeds is by playing multiple characters. I noticed that one person played more than one character. It even takes time to realize that because they change their outfit and the way they talk and everything very fast. For example Juanga, Julia’s friend, played as her friend and also as the boy she liked when she went to Mexico. They are two different people, but one person was able to play both really well. Another thing the actors succeeded in were their highly entertaining acting and conversations. Even though Julia was funny in the book, we don't really see the other characters being as funny. However, we see in the play that the characters are funnier than the book. I think it's because we can see their facial expressions, acting and it's easier to understand by visualizing.

This play highlights the struggles that parents and teens often face. Immigrant parents and their children have different perspectives. Julia was interested in good things such as books, reading, and poems, but her parents never appreciate, instead they put pressure on her with things she doesn’t do, like helping at home or cooking like her mom. For example, Juanga also had the same issue with his parents; he was beaten up by his parents for being gay. This book is a good example of teenage life and how they deal with it. Even though parents are doing such things to protect their children, the book shows the child's perspective and how the pressure affects them. A more universal takeaway from this book is that some parents understand and see their child's perspective when they are not together or when something bad happens to them. When teenagers are very depressed and have no one to talk to or understands them, suicide can become an option. But we can see in the play that Julia was able to get through that and live a better life and after getting into her dream college she felt like there's lots of things waiting for her. Her parents were able to pay more attention when she was in danger physically more than emotionally. Later on in the story we see her mom trying to be more friendly and nice to Julia, and that's when Julia also apologizes for the trouble she made. This play is a good example of fixing problems with communication and building relationships.

Overall this play illustrates depression, suicide, immigrant parents, and more. In the life of Julia, we see what caused her to be depressed how she dealt with it, and how suicide came to her mind when things get hard or unbearable. This fits to today’s society because teenage suicide is a major issue, and we need to learn how to deal with it. I personally think it's important to see what causes depression before focusing on a solution. Julia is a good example of the cause of suicide. I think immigrant parents should see the play so they can see the perspective of their child and where it can lead.

Lead photo credit: Karen Rodriguez in rehearsal for I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Rep. Photo by Sayed Alamy.

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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