From left, Caleb Cabrera, Eric Avilés, Carlos Jose Gonzalez Morales and Shaun Patrick Tubbs appear in Marin Theatre Company’s Bay Area premiere of “My Mañana Comes.” (Courtesy Kevin Berne)

Busboys’ work-a-day world comes to light in ‘My Mañana Comes’

Elizabeth Irwin’s “My Mañana Comes” brings to light what goes on behind the scenes at a high-class Manhattan eatery. And it ends with a big, effective jolt that clearly illustrates the playwright’s points about injustices facing minority workers who earn pitifully substandard wages.

Yet the journey along the way in Marin Theatre Company’s local premiere of the 90-minute dramedy, which takes place on various days over a week in the work routine of four low-paid busboys, sometimes feels forced.

These guys — two are undocumented Mexicans, one is a Latino American who jokes that he didn’t realize he is Mexican, and one is black — are perhaps a little too showy and a little too articulate. Irwin’s intermittently sociological dialogue supplies more exposition than action, and, particularly for the first portion of the show, Kirsten Brandt’s direction has the worker looking more like they’re lecturing, or performing onstage, than hustling in a hot kitchen. (The realistic set design is by Sean Fanning.)

Granted, some of the scenes have the characters at the end of a shift, or between shifts, providing them the opportunity to jaw about their lives. (Still, it seems as through they’re putting on and taking off their uniforms more than actually working.)

Peter, the experienced ringleader, is proud to be a busboy, of knowing the right way to do things and showing his fellow workers. With a sometimes difficult girlfriend, and young daughter to care for, he complains when can’t maximize his earnings because he’s not scheduled for the busiest shifts. And when he tells his coworkers about the $100 ticket he got for jumping a fare gate to catch his train, we really feel his pain. Shaun Patrick Tubbs is animated and righteous in the show’s best-written role.

Jorge (Eric Aviles) is the quiet, steady, mature fellow who shows up for work, does his job and saves his money for the day he can return to Mexico. The fast-talking, less dedicated Whalid (Caleb Cabrera) even needles him for staying at the job for four years, and banking $30,000. Whalid, whose longer term plans don’t include kitchen work, is in pursuit of a salaried gig as an EMT; he even brings his textbook to the pantry and practices on his colleagues.

Pepe (Carlos Jose Gonzalez Morales), on the other hand, has no plans beyond enjoying a beer or two, and saving just enough money to bring his brother from Mexico to the U.S.

In the end, the contrasting plights of all four come to the fore, quite dramatically, as they face the reality of wage cuts. When real life at last kicks in, “My Mañana Comes” packs a punch.

REVIEW
My Mañana Comes
Where: Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley
When: Tuesdays through Sundays; closes Nov. 22
Tickets: $10 to $58
Contact: (415) 388-5208, www.marinheatre.org

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