Miracle Theatre's current production of Men on the Verge 2 is first and foremost a showcase for the prodigious talents of Andres Alcalá. The play is comprised of 13 short scenes about gay Hispanic men, and Alcalá plays every role: from a repressed Catholic atoning for a night of three-way sex to a Chilean restaurant owner whose lover has just been killed in the 9/11 bombings. Alcalá's virtuoso performance ranges from hilarious to heartbreaking as he explores, with cat-like agility, the peaks and valleys of Guillermo Reyes' somewhat bipolar script.
The play examines the borders of sexuality and nationality, delving into the complicated experiences of gay men from Central and South America. In "Self-Esteem for Illegal Immigrants," a hilariously acerbic Alcalá incites the audience to chant "I'm cheap labor and they need me." In another, a hyper-masculine sports fan flirts with his lover while simultaneously coaching his son at soccer and trying to deflect the suspicions of his wife. It's a testament to Alcalá's skill that, as the only actor on stage, he is able to convey all of this information in a manner both clear and compelling. Not all of the scenes are equally successful—some, like "If I Can't Have You," about a pill-popping disco queen in love with a border guard, fall flat—but Alcalá does a valiant job propping up even the most cardboard aspects of the script.
Each scene opens with Alcalá (in a silent, ubiquitous "photographer" character) framing the scene in a camera lens, and ends with a pose and a camera bulb's explosive flash of light. Thus each segment is literally a "snapshot" of gay life—multiple exposures that are summarily tied together in the epilogue, as Alcalá's recurring character explains how all of his problems and neuroses melted away when he moved to Portland, Oregon. The sunshine-and-roses ending, coupled with the "hey, that's where we live!" gag, are a too-neat coda to a play that derives most of its dramatic interest from the wide variety of characters portrayed. But cynical complaints aside, it's obvious that both Alcalá and director Dan Ruiz have a lot invested in this show, and it pays off in a moving, funny, occasionally campy, and altogether enjoyable production.