Border bender - Page 2

Thick Description's revival of Octavio Solis's El Otro is a trip
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And as a first act closer, it's hard to beat Rhonnie Washington's entrance as El Charro Negro, one of Solis' more fanciful and inspired creations and a consistent treat throughout in Washington's hands (who is back in the saddle after having originated the role in 1996).

Well-pitched performances came too from Lawrence Radecker as Ross, an increasingly light-headed and blood-bespattered cowboy, and Michael Bellino as the border patrol cop wrestling with his backlogged conscience after he catches Mexicans sneaking the wrong way over the river — a real fuse-blower, the sight acts on him like a nonsense rhyme on one of those Star Trek robots with the smoldering ears.

Solis, enjoying an impressive string of productions of late, including last season's excellent Bay Area premiere of Lydia at Marin Theatre Company, crafted an enduring work in El Otro for all its pop references and rough edges. At the best moments in this admittedly fitful but worthwhile production, the flow of language — mingling flights of poetic revelry, whimsical and nightmare imagery, casual and colorful vulgarity and deadpan humor — seems to hover and soar just over the stage. At the same time, it never loses sight of the ground, and in fact more than once plunges deep into the mud: playing movingly with life and death in the viscous slime and churning waters of that border-defining river.

EL OTRO

Through Sept. 13

Thurs–Sun, 8 p.m., $15–$30

Thick House, 1695 18th St., SF

www.thickhouse.org

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