(RED BANK, NJ) -- Two River Theater will present the World Premiere of El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom: A Superhero Play by Matt Barbot from January 6 through February 4. The production, directed by José Zayas. Employing deft use of the superhero/comic book genre, the play explores questions of individual and national identity—including what it means to be “Latino” or “not Latino enough”—in contemporary America.
El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom: A Superhero Play tells the story of Alex, an unemployed young comic book artist still wrestling with the death of his father, a policeman, in the line of duty. Adrift in his career and his life, he decides to see what it’s like to be a superhero, and begins to dress up as his creation El Coquí Espectacular (a Puerto Rican superhero who gets his power from a vejigante carnival mask and his name from a tree frog) and fight crime in his neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Meanwhile, his responsible older brother Joe is encouraging Alex to join him at his advertising agency, where Joe works selling sugary soda to Latino consumers. When Joe is fired from a project, the two, with the help of a young photographer named Yesica, hatch a plan: to debut El Coquí at the Puerto Rican Day Parade and prove themselves to the world.
El Coquí Espectácular and the Bottle of Doom was a finalist in the 2014 Repertorio Español Nuestras Voces competition, and won the Kennedy Center’s Darrel Ayers Award for Outstanding Student-Written Play for Young Audiences, as well as the Kennedy Center’s Latinidad Award for Outstanding Play Written by a Student of Latino/Hispanic Heritage. It was also a finalist in Repertorio Español's 2013 Nuestras Voces competition.
The cast of El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom includes Gabriel Diego Hernández (El Chupacabra/Junior), Olivia Negrón (Patricia), Flor De Liz Perez (Yesica), Cesar J. Rosado (Joe), and Bradley Tejeda (Alex).
The creative team includes scenic designer Arnulfo Maldonado, costume designer Ásta Bennie Hostetter, lighting designer Zach Blane, sound designer Jane Shaw, and projections/animation designer Alex Koch. The fight direction is by UnkleDave’s Fight-House, the casting is by Jack Doulin + Sharky, and the stage manager is Terri K. Kohler.
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“Matt Barbot is a playwright with a unique and exciting voice,” says Artistic Director John Dias. “Super-smart, super-cheeky and super-honest, his El Coquí examines what it means to be Latino in America in a deeply personal and very funny way. What is a wannabe hero to do when he’s considered a ‘sorta-Rican:’ raised in America by immigrant parents, feeling disconnected from the Latino community (and barely speaking Spanish), but still seen as Latino by the majority of the country. It’s a play for all of us who long to connect to our roots, embrace our culture and let our inner superheroes soar.”
El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom was introduced to Red Bank audiences when it was read as part of the theater’s 2016 Crossing Borders (Cruzando Fronteras) festival of new Latino plays.
Performances take place in Two River’s Marion Huber Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, in Red Bank, New Jersey.