I thought I had my "Muy Very Authentico" review written before the show even started: "This is a play for Wes Anderson fans." After all, the pre-show tableau was straight out of "The Darjeeling Limited," with three casually but carefully dressed young men (one, for example, barefoot in a summer suit) sitting together strumming and singing in front of a shop facade labeled DREAM SUENOS: WHERE YOUR DREAMS BECOME SUENOS.
"Muy Very Authentico" is indeed a play for Wes Anderson fans, but only those who don't mind a lot more fart jokes than are apt to figure in "The Grand Budapest Hotel." This is the world of Jon Ferguson, whose work is childlike in its generosity of imagination; in its sincerity of emotion; and in its thrall to humor involving butts, dicks, and boobs.
The play—a new, collaboratively created piece that's at Open Eye Figure Theatre through December 15—opens in 1993, when a married couple (Katie Kaufmann and Brant Miller) seeking to regain that spark walk into Dream Sueños, a travel agency. We then flash forward to 2013, when a trio of twentysomethings (Lauren Rae Anderson, Charlotte Calvert, and Alex Hathaway) stumble into the agency to book an exotic adventure to wherever they might find true love, thrilling adventure, and "some new age shit."
Dream Sueños, we discover, is not what it seems—though what precisely it is remains somewhat unclear, to its proprietors (Jason Rojas and Allison Witham) as well as to us. It's not a conventional travel agency any more, but it does deliver unforgettable (albeit at least partially artificial) experiences. All three of the latter-day travelers get what they came for, and more. In the end, the couple who run Dream Sueños need to come to terms with their own dreams—and decide how to chase them.
If that sounds like some new age shit—well, it is, but "Muy Very Authentico" is also rowdy and goofy. All three travelers take turns in the spotlight, and all have conspicuous, contagious fun. Anderson's performance is detailed and poised; Hathaway earns laughs with his skinny-guy macho swagger; and, in a scene involving a bad burrito, Calvert is so physically fearless that audience members in the front row might wonder whether they should have brought ponchos. Witham, given a role that allows her to shamelessly ham it up, is as hilarious as anyone familiar with her past work would expect; and Rojas holds a center of gravity that becomes crucial to the unexpected delight of the production's conclusion.
Throughout, the incorporation of music is elegant and effective. The show's structure feels a little looser than one might ideally like it to be—but then, this is Jon Ferguson, who's always more interested in a show's emotional truth than its literal truth. "Muy Very Authentico" is in no sense a Christmas show—a fact that might be recommendation enough to wassail-weary theatergoers—but it's suffused with a very different, equally warm, sort of holiday spirit.