Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two Stories Diverge in 'Water By the Spoonful'

Yaz (Zabryna Guevara) is Elliot's (Armando Riesco) rock in "Water By the Spoonful. Photos by Richard Termine.


every interesting-sounding tale and much anticipated drama delivers on its promise.

“Water By the Spoonful,” in an extended run through 10 Feb. at Second Stage Theatre, has the pedigree and potential to be a blockbuster.

It’s written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, a Tony nominee for the book of 2008’s Best Musical Tony winner, “In the Heights.” Furthermore, QAH also received the Pulitzer Prize last year for “Water By the Spoonful,” a sequel to her acclaimed 2007 play “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue.”

So what went awry in “Water By the Spoonful” that made it a slog of an experience? Two dissonant threads unravel. This tantalizing premise makes the story exciting but also splits it apart so that the play is bogged down by its disjointed construction. (See video at:

Odessa (Liza Colon-Zayas) is the den mother to Orangutan (Sue Jean Kim) and Chutes and Ladders (Frankie Faison) in "Water By the Spoonful."

Elliot (Armando Riesco), a veteran of the Iraqi War, is struggling. He suffers in a meaningless job and from guilt-ridden flashbacks. His cousin, Yaz (Zabryna Guevara), is the shoulder he leans on as he readjusts to civilian life.

Meanwhile, in the other strand of “Water By the Spoonful” is Elliot’s estranged aunt Odessa (Liza Colon-Zayas) aka Haikumom in the chat room she leads. The crack addicts in various stages of recovery in her online support group include a disaffected young Japanese-born ex-pat nicknamed Orangutan (Sue Jean Kim), a wisecracking IRS agent in his 50s with the handle of Chutes and Ladders (Frankie R. Faison) and newbie Fountainhead (Bill Heck).

Fountainhead (Bill Heck) and Odessa (Liza Colon-Zayas) have a moment in "Water By the Spoonful."

This staging of a cyber 12-step group fails to be dynamic and theatrical because QAH relies too heavily on stagnant monologues.

Sadly, the disparate stories in “Water By the Spoonful” baffle more than they engage.

Visit to learn more about “Water By the Spoonful.”

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