By Yesenia Martinez
“Man of the Flesh” will pull audiences at East Los Angeles College out of their seats with its dancing skeletons, satirical spoof of the Don Juan myth and its sexual escapades.
Juan Tenorio, played by Peter Mendoza, has a control over women that the moment one dismisses him, there is an almost magnetic desire to pull him back. Like Tenorio himself, the play leaves audiences satisfied and asking for more.
The play is based on the myth of Don Juan who is a libertine and likes to seduce women, mainly virgins, and enjoys fighting their men. It is no surprise that “Man of the Flesh,” by Octavio Solis and directed by Vanessa Mizzone, is set on El Dia de Los Muertos, the annual Day of the Dead, where the living and dead collide.
The play borrows and re-imagines the Don Juan legend as it would be in modern Mexican-American culture. When the play begins, Tenerio is fresh from impregnating three neighborhood women, two who are under-aged. He has his own sense of standards that are based on the principle of sexual rapture.
Tenerio seems to want to be like everyone else, but when he sees women and they see him, there is an uncontrollable urge to devour each other. Tenerio is the son of a hard-working Mexican-American, Don Diego, played by Ricardo Salcido, who runs Pronto Lawn and Garden Landscaping Service in East Los Angeles and is employed by the wealthy Downey family in San Marino. Tenerio lives for seduction until he falls in love, or so he says, with the daughter of Mr and Mrs. Downey.
Before he can seduce Anna Downey, he first has to deal with her sister, played by Sabrina Guerrero, and Mrs. Downey, played by Linda Leigh. The lustful Downey maid, Flor, played by Joel Ayala, is also in the mix, along with Luis, played by Adam Gonzalez, brother of one of his earlier seductions.
As Tenerio’s journey in seducing the daughter of the Downeys prolongs, he has to also fight the walking dead, who are surrounding him throughout the play. Toward the end of the play the audience is captivated as Tenerio’s dead mother comes back to condemn him, along with another spirit who proves to be Tenerio’s fatal attraction who supernaturally punishes Tenerio.
Mark Vallejo infuses needed humor in the role of Fracas, Tenerio’s friend and fellow landscaper, who also narrates much of the story. Solis’s Tenorio seduces, kills and is ultimately claimed by Death herself in a final orgasmic moment. Solis satires the myth by reducing the traditional image of the confident Don Juan figure as this privileged grandee and turning him into a Latin lover.
“Man of the Flesh” will play Friday through Sunday at 8 p.m. with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Black Box Theatre in the Performing and Fine Arts Complex. All seats are $10 and it is recommended for attendants to get their tickets ahead of time. For more information or reservations call (323) 415-5333.