While the customers at a ritzy Upper East Side restaurant dine on overpriced fare, four busboys living paycheck to paycheck toil with remarkable precision and perseverance behind the scenes. But the teamwork and camaraderie among Peter (Edred Utomi), Whalid (Spencer Smith), Jorge (Jorge E. Rodriguez) and Pepe (Jose Martinez) becomes paranoia, desperation and ultimately worse in Elizabeth Irwin’s penetrating My Manana Comes at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. This one-act play faultlessly directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg must be appreciated on two levels: the rigor and meticulousness of the actors playing busboys hard at work, and the personal interactions between them that tell an important story about minimum-wage survival, exploitation of workers and clashing cultures.
Spanish is spoken abundantly during the action (Rodriguez and Martinez portray Mexicans working in the U.S. to better their families’ lives), though the tensions and confidences between the characters should be clear to all. Playwright Irwin has attempted to give each man a back story, but in a one-act some are more substantial than others. One thing is for certain: each man has something to cling to and something to lose – a fact no doubt lost on the unseen diners gorging on foie gras.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat