All in la familia

by Mar 5, 2008 12:00 am

Michael Adams

With a title that only makes sense once you've seen the play, "Mummified Deer" will entertain you, make you laugh, confuse you and teach you about Mexican culture all without having to leave campus.

The play was written by Luis Valdez, a San Jose State University graduate, who is most famous for directing and writing "La Bamba," the screen biography of Ritchie Valens, a 1950s Mexican-American rock singer who died in a plane crash along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.

According to the program brochure, Valdez wrote "Mummified Deer" because he found inspiration in a newspaper article he read about an 84-year-old woman who was pregnant with a 60-year-old fetus.

"Mummified Deer" takes place in the 1960s and is set around a woman, Mama Chu, played by Amy Lizardo, and the family she raised.

Mama Chu is hospitalized, which brings her family together because of the concern they have for her well-being.

While Mama Chu is unconscious, lying in a hospital bed for most of the play, her dreams are well-documented. She witnesses her past, which includes clowns, and a running deer that's constantly being chased by a hunter.

These scenes are dumfounding, but both the deer and the clown represent parts of Mama Chu's past that not all of her family knows exist. The secrets she has kept for nearly her whole life are revealed during her hospital visit.

Armida, a University of California graduate student and Mama Chu's granddaughter, is played by Lani Wong, who discovers her family's secret. Some of the family members don't want to hear about how their mother has lied to them all of their lives.

Profe, played by Noe Montoya, plays the guitar and provides humor and balance to the dysfunctional family.

Tilly, a girl who couldn't be any dumber, and her mother Oralia, the materialistic daughter of Mama Chu, add stupidity and fun to the performance.

The petrified fetus award goes to the performance of Alicia Urizar, who plays Augustina, Mama Chu's other daughter. Whether she's dancing or having sex with an annoying clown or her brother, she does it with a lot of energy and excitement.

Aside from all the insanity, "Mummified Deer" exemplifies the importance of family in the Mexican culture.

The performance had pleasant music, odd dancing and plenty of PG-13-rated sexual content,

If you're planning on bringing young children, you might want to think twice or prepare for a "birds and bees" speech afterwards.

The set has a colorful backdrop bordered with what appears to be the inside of an oak tree, or perhaps it's the desert. Either way it's a bizarre hospital.

If you're a theater buff, you'll enjoy "Mummified Deer," because chances are you haven't seen anything else like it, and it's not a bad idea for a date either.

There's a reason why SJSU's University Theatre was nearly at its capacity during the Saturday showing of "Mummified Deer."

It's well written, with good direction and entertaining actors. For only $10, if you're a student, go see it.

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