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ED RUBIN "Batman & Robin In The Boogie Down"
"Batman & Robin In The Boogie Down"
Written & Performed by Juliette Jeffers
Directed by Chuck Patterson
Original Los Angeles production directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood
Stage Loft Theatre
438 West 37th Street - 5A
New York, New York
Tickets 1 (800) 838-3006
June 16 – July 17, 2010 (on selected days)
Reviewed by Edward Rubin, Thursday, June 17, 2010
Nominated for a NAACP Theatre Award for Best Play in Los Angeles, "Batman & Robin In The Boogie Down," Juliette Jeffers's autobiographical one woman show, which she both wrote and acts in, took seven long years to reach New York City. Given the intense and deeply humane story that Jeffers recreates on stage - with equal amounts of humor and pathos – it took four times that amount of time, as Jeffers relates in the play, for her to come to terms, to make peace, so to speak – if such a thing is possible - with all of the life-changing events in her life.
Juliette Jeffers in "Batman & Robin In The Boogie Down."
Written as a paean to her late brother Lloyd, as well as an act of self-healing, "Batman & Robin," structured in 2 short acts, runs some 2 hours. Beautifully channeling both family and friends, Jeffers recreates three decades of her life, as seen through her own eyes, and those of the characters who populate her story. We first meet Carol-Ann, as Jeffers calls herself in this play, at age thirty, talking to her brother who is presumably in heaven, and five minutes later she is Carol-Ann at three, remembering, the games, Batman & Robin especially, that they used to play as children.
While the play, which jumps back and forth from character to character, year to year, age to age, is sometimes is a bit confusing to follow, Jeffers's writing, for the most part, is spot on. She definitely imbues each character's conversation with real feelings and emotions, although sometimes the words seem to belong more in a novel than a play. In this production, Jeffers's real strength is in her acting, ironically not exactly when she plays "todays" herself – though she has a killer smile – but when she plays, all in perfects accents, her brother, her philosophizing Dominican Uncle Pablo, and her singing Jamaican grandmother – the three most interestingly written characters.
Yes, along the way, we meet her pedophile Uncle Delroy who molested her in the park, hear mention of her stint at the High School of Performing Arts, her work as a waitress at Caliente Cab Restaurante, her film, theatre and commercial work in Hollywood, and her brother's marriage, fatherhood, and death while shoveling snow - in a kind of truncated resume form - but the most delicious treat of the evening, the writer at her most imaginative is her Uncle Pablo. It is Pablo, wonderfully played by Jeffer's, that elicits the most laughs, and brings the most life to the play as he as he relates his philosophy, in the form of advice to the young Lloyd, on how to catch the right girl. For a taste of Jeffers's at her best, you can read Pablo's advice to Lloyd below.
UNCLE PABLO: (Dominican accent.) Mira que tenemos aqui! You are getting so big! You and you little sister need to visit your family in Santo Domingo more often.
So, que pasa? You like the ladies? You got a little girlfriend? Eh? I think you are old enough now for me to tell you the secret to being a true Latin Lover. Numero uno – Never tell them all of your secrets. But you gotta tell them a couple so that they think that you're opening up to them.
Be sensitive pero no too much! Only let her see you cry once so that she can see that you can be vulnerable. But more that once and you're being a pussycat. And don't make noise when you cry, okay? Just one teardrop – boom – that's it!
Juliette Jeffers in "Batman & Robin In The Boogie Down."
HER COOKING … Make sounds when you eat her food. Don't just tell her that it tastes good. She needs to hear grunts and noises… "Ummm, Aaah." And lick your fingers (He licks his finger with a smacking sound) even if there's nothing on there to lick…Pretend!
LISTEN…When she's going on and on about something that you don't give a shit about, you look deep into her eyes and pretend to listen. You can take that opportunity to daydream about the baseball game last night or having sex with Lola Folana…whatever…No importa!
Once in a Blue Moon, you're gonna meet someone that makes you forget all about the "Latin Lover" rules! For me, it was Rosarita. Aye,yie,yie…bonita like you wouldn't believe. And she had de curves in all de right places… (He demonstrates the curves) Racatacata! Tu sabes? Pero, she saw straight through me. I cry…just to show her that I'm sensitive…I cry – one teardrop – boom – that's it! And she tell me that she makes all de men cry and that I should get a tissue and dry my eye. This is when I knew that I had met my match.
I decided to have a romantic evening with her so I made dinner. Arroz con Pollo with Platanos – Boom! I shave. I put on my favorite cologne. I had de fancy tablecloth, de fancy plates. The room was lit only by candlelight. I had Julio Iglesis playing in the background. And she looked absolutely beautiful. She had a beauty mark right in the middle of her right shoulder blade. Ay Dios Mio… it was so sexy! It made me start to sing, "Besame, besame mucho. Como si fuera esta noche la ultima vez. Besame,besame mucho. Que tengo miedo perderte, perderte despues." I love that song!
So anyway, we're sitting there at the dinner table and I begin to tell her a story about my day at work. And she was looking deep into my eyes, pero it was as if she was looking straight past me and daydreaming about something else. Going shopping for a new dress or having dinner with Harry Belafonte. No se. But I say to myself, Oh My God…I LOVE HER. She was the female version of me! …Anyway, my best advise to you, is to follow my Latin Lover rules but beware of the Rosaritas out there, because they will get you!
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