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Aging Abuelos (Maria Cellario), matriarch of a Cuban immigrant family in Miami, has determined she is to die on her 75th birthday. She gathers her children Tio (Chaz Mena) and Maritza (Saundra Santiago) to witness her death. All three harbor secrets that frustrate Maritza’s recalcitrant 15-year-old daughter, Marty (Katharine Luckinbill), who just wants to live a normal life. Into the mix comes a seemingly innocent gardener from Iowa (Kevin Symons), who is party to Tio’s secret life. The five characters engage in their lies, trying to avoid reality until the death of Abuelos’ dog, Alexandros, sets off an emotional journey to the truth. Melinda Lopez writes fascinating dialogue and has some fine stories to tell, but her play constantly shifts from realism to broad farce to melodrama — each style is interesting, but the mix is frustrating. Nevertheless, David Ellenstein’s direction brings sharp if disjointed life to the changing genres. All of the actors are superb, particularly Santiago, with her powerful voice and fluid physicality. The technical aspects are equally accomplished, with Marty Burnett’s colorful, crisp set design partnered with Paulie Jenkins’ fine lighting.
Sat., May 31, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m.; Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Thu., June 12, 2 p.m.; Sun., June 22, 7 p.m. Starts: May 31. Continues through June 30, 2008

LA Weekly