nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
September 19, 2008
"People that matter don't judge and people that judge don't matter." These words of wisdom and many others flow with a mix of tremendous grace and flamboyant style from the mouth of Indio Melendez in his new one-man show.
Melendez opens with a beautiful dance to evoke Elegua, an Afro-Cuban god of transitions. With amazing agility, he moves his svelte body across the stage to an altar lit by candlelight. Melendez has excellent command over his body and there are several other scenes with impressive movement. There are also several other Afro-Americano gods and goddess evoked such as Yemaya, the goddess of the oceans, and Ochun, the goddess of love and beauty. Melendez grounds himself in these spiritual invocations throughout the show.
Most of the show is written in rhyming verse with a rap rhythm to it. When Melendez is not rhyming, he is having a conversation with an unseen character such as his wife or his son. Melendez is struggling to find his identity in a world that wants him to be one thing or another, but he has to find his own path because he cannot be just one thing. Melendez is trying to be a good husband and father but he's also exploring his bisexuality. He shows us all the aspects of his life with vivid characters such as a drag queen named Cinnamon. When he strutted to his mirror and began to change into this character's costume he drew an outburst of hoots and hollers from the audience the night I attended. In a scene entitled "Flava of the Day" he is dressed in full hip-hop regalia (he doesn't forget to pull his pants down below his butt) and he touts the advantages of bisexuality and why no one has the right to judge him or anyone for that matter.
Tolerance is the main message of Melendez's show. Whether it is tolerance for sexuality or for the rough edges we all possess, Melendez reminds us of the importance of unconditional love. In a particularly heartwarming scene entitled "Words for my Son," Melendez is trying to get his son back on track and explain to him that he should live his life in stages and not try to skip ahead into adulthood. He admits that he doesn't have all the answers and that he's still learning himself but his mistakes are there as wisdom for his son. Melendez does an amazing job highlighting the strengths and weaknesses in us all.
Director Veronica Caicedo places Melendez all about the large stage at Teatro La Tea. She does an excellent job creating the mood and attitude necessary to pull this show off. Lighting designer Alex Moore helps by setting the perfect mood for each scene, as does the awesome soundtrack courtesy of Ruben "Jurukan" Cruz. In addition to being an accomplished performer, Melendez shows his talent for writing poignant and thought-provoking ideas into simple parables. (There is, however, one scene about a roommate who refuses to flush his turds when he's done that I could not understand how it fit into the show at all.)
Indiosyncrasy is a lyrical and visual journey that is both personal and spiritual. Melendez delivers a lot of energy along with a provocative message that most of us need to be reminded of. One of the most important things he shows us is that while we all have idiosyncrasies, we are also all united in our humanity.