Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Travelers: ★ ★ ★ ★

Luis Alfaro's new play, "The Travelers," is a wonder. Glorious staging, costuming and choreographed movement have us fascinated and involved from the opening sequence, where the young men change from their everyday clothing into novitiate robes. These are all discarded souls, having managed to eke out a perilous haven in a religious order that is so obscure it is being canceled by its own church. Everyone here is ultimately on their own.

The actors use their real names. The most likeable is Yiyo, played by Guillermo Yiyo Ornelas, a frightened boy who understands how desperate their situation is. 

 The entire ensemble is first rate. We love them all: Juan Amador as new Brother Juan, Daniel Duque-Estrada as Brother Daniel, Brian M. Rivera as Brother Brian, Kinan Valdez as Brother Nancho and Ogie Zulueta as poor hostage Ogie, who lives in a bathtub next to the toilet.

Brother Daniel, seen above, just wants to run a circus back in his hometown of Zacatecas. Brother Nancho is suspicious of the whole enterprise. Brother Brian is the boss, but he has a secret that will present a problem that may be insoluble.

This being a Luis Alfaro show, there are lots of side jokes. They wish Brothers Andrew and Brother Michael good luck with their new lives in Palm Springs. Everyone knows God is good for arthritis. They are in agreement that pain leads to God but they'd rather have less pain and more God.  Meanwhile, Brother Juan looks like he's going to take over.

RATINGS ★ ★ ★ ★

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants FOUR STARS to Luis Alfaro's "The Travelers." The run is short and this is a show you should not miss. We live in an age of confusion. It's good to know these devout brothers are as messed up as we are. And it is an infrequent pleasure to be front-of-the-seat involved in a show from curtain to curtain. 

OK, there is no curtain at the Magic Theater. God made me write that.

"The Travelers"
The Magic Theatre
Fort Mason, Building D, 3rd Floor
San Francisco
Through March 5, 2023

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