Presented by Teatro Chelsea
Written by Josie Nericcio
Directed by Armando Rivera
Fight choreography by Matthew Dray
June 15-July 1, 2023
Chelsea Theatre Works
181 Winnisimmet Street
Chelsea, MA 02150
This play was a finalist in Teatro’s 3rd Annual A-Tipico Latinx New Play Festival.
Critique by Kitty Drexel
CHELSEA, Mass. — Teatro Chelsea’s production of Josie Nericcio’s 619 Hendricks ran at Chelsea Theatre Works through July 1. The run is over but maybe, if we ask nicely, it will play somewhere else soon. Massachusetts needs to celebrate more quality theatre like 619 Hendricks.
The general rule, when it comes to family or friends and money, is don’t lend. Give. That money is already gone and will never be paid back once it changes hands. Humans have a short memory for gratitude.
In Laredo, Texas, two brothers mourn the death of their mother. Mama has left them her house in her will. The eldest, Nesto (Juan Carlos Pinedo Rivera), wants to sell right away to a big developer in town. Richie, a fancy Hollywood writer, (Cristhian Mancinas-Garcia) wants to wait. They stubbornly refuse to discuss why they feel this way. Their inability to talk leads to a war for the house and for their pride.
Marta (Monica Risi) counsels her husband Nesto to be patient with Richie. Tia Carolin (Elisa Guzman-Hosta) and Tio Chago (Victor Hugo Hart) won’t take sides but they will take the valuables they’re certain Mama meant for them. She must have forgotten to tell you. (Poor Tio Chago just wants a comfortable chair.) Felix Ramos plays Hector the real estate agent trying to catch a break.
Nericcio pokes holes in the egos of Nesto and Richie until they have gaping emotional wounds. It was the work of the cast on July 1 to bare those wounds and close them in time for the show to end. 619 Hendricks has a lot of comedic moments. It was the good work of Rivera and Mancinas-Garcia that kept the show from breaking down.
Juan Carlos Pinedo Rivera and Cristhian Mancinas-Garcia work exceedingly well together as two disparate brothers finding their way back to a family bond. Rivera is strong but buoyant as Nesto. Mancinas-Garcia plays Richie as an underdog learning to be brave.
619 Hendricks is nearly a complete play. The script is warm and confident. The first act is truthful and funny. Nericcio introduces characters through dialogue before they hit the stage and then allows each the physical space to show the audience their personalities. Nericcio establishes conflict with minimal set-up and shows us relationships while telling us important details.
The second act needs tightening. It has darlings that Nericcio must kill for the play to flow properly. Nesto and Richie have their pinnacle argument and then the play meanders in its falling action for 20+ minutes.
Editing the Nesto/Richie dialogue after their blowout fight will correct the slow pacing that currently causes the show to drag to its end. They have multiple sincere moments of true brotherhood. 619 Hendricks won’t be reduced in quality if Nesto and Richie have slightly fewer of them.
Nesto and Richie have an unfortunate but entirely predictable scuffle in the second act. From the way Rivera and Mancinas-Garcia played their roles, I thought someone was going to end up in the hospital.
No actors were sent to the hospital thanks to the fight choreography of Matthew Dray. Dray’s work was safe, appropriate to the scene, and suited to the talents of the actors.
This play is told primarily in English and features characters who speak Spanish exclusively. Solo-lingual audience members should have no difficulty understanding the Spanish dialogue as the actors tell the story so well that we understand what they are communicating even if we can’t translate every word.
Nericcio’s play is comparable to August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. Nericcio and Wilson diverge in style and approach, but their abilities to grasp their characters by the balls and twist are similar. Wilson’s The Piano Lesson is a dark story about a family arguing over ownership of a family piano. He tells us that the ghosts of the past will haunt burdened souls.
Nericcio examines the same lesson with a house and comedy and hard love instead of a musical instrument. Teatro Chelsea’s 619 Hendricks was a delight to watch. I hope it hits another stage soon.