My Pulp review of Theatre Nova’s world premiere production of ‘Spin’

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Jose Martinez and Matthew Webb in Emilio Rodriguez’s “Spin,” now having its world premiere at Ann Arbor’s Theatre Nova. 

Mila – a gay, black/hispanic teen in Emilio Rodriguez’s Spin, now having its world premiere at Theatre Nova – greets the enrichment programs at his homeless shelter, as well as the world outside, with measured skepticism.

“They try to get you with the root beer floats. Then you have to learn something,” he says.

Yet his new roommate, a more trusting Latino teen named Angelo (Jose Martinez), feels differently. “Poetry is dope,” he says weakly, like a little brother who’s been caught cuddling a teddy bear.

The young men vacillate between vulnerability and guardedness with each other throughout the show’s 80-minute run time, gingerly navigating a minefield of masculinity. Both spin self-defensive lies as well as rhymes: Angelo with his verses – which he presents to the audience between scenes, thus providing the play’s connective tissue – and Mila with rap.

But Rodriguez’s script also takes pains to remind you how young and naive these two characters are, despite their hard pasts and bluster. Mila explains, for instance, that if he ever has kids, of they were misbehaving, he’d simply tell them to knock it off. “They’ll stop, and they’ll be grateful I stayed,” he says. (This got a pretty big laugh on opening night.) And when Angelo explains that he has an alternate identity he adopts in moments of stress, Mila settles in to watch the transformation, as if expecting an act of magic to occur. In these moments, we know they’re just boys grown tall. READ THE REST HERE

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