By Sandi Durell
The Public Theater’s Anspacher Theater is getting a shake up currently with John Leguizamo lecturing, classroom style, to us – morons that we are – about Latino history. And if it weren’t for Leguizamo being challenged by his eighth grade son, faced with bullying from a schoolmate bragging about his ancestral heritage, to come up with reasons to brag about his own Latino background, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.
Leguizamo, known for his self penned one-man shows including Freak, Sexaholic, Ghetto Klown, Spic-O-Rama, went in search of his roots to come up with answers and in so doing journeys thru Latin history dating back to 1000 BC and is now a self-professed Ghetto scholar. Taking the audience back, back in time to prove many points, it seems Latinos can be traced back to the Mayans, Incas, definitely pre-Columbus and American Indian right thru Pitbull! Everyone gets into the act including Bloody Andrew Jackson, Pizzaro and Montezuma, as well as the audience.
Buddy (the name John calls his son), given a school assignment to write about a hero, is at a loss but . . . Dad to the rescue, or so Leguizamo thinks until he finds it’s not that easy delving through books (which are plentiful in boxes & file cabinets everywhere), and feverishly writing on a blackboard to prove many points with percentages and pie charts galore, that is, when he’s not dancing or taking on characterizations of Cortez, Aztecs, Incas, Freud or his therapist (who tells him he has repressed Ghetto rage).
In his own inimitable raunchy, high-energy style, peppered with lots of profanity, Leguizamo, now 52, is definitely a charmer as he blends family, personal stories and his own historical overview into many a laugh.
I’m afraid, however, you’ll have to do a lot of your own research to figure out where truth or fiction lie. Tony Taccone directs on a set designed by Rachel Hauck with lighting by Alexander V. Nichols and original music and sound by Bray Poor.
Latin History for Morons continues thru April 23 and runs one hour, 40 minutes.
Photo: Joan Marcus