Within seconds of meeting Sunilda Caraballo you’re smiling back at her – because besides greeting you with a long rambling hello, she’s turned on a thousand watt smile that’s impossible to not return. Bubbly, energetic and easy to be with, Sunilda welcomes you into the mess of her apartment that can’t seems to stay clean now that she’s had a baby. What starts as idle chatter about how her life has changed – no sleep, a 3 minute shower once a week, and never feeling like she’s going to catch up – slowly evolves into a memoir of her young life: Hardware Dreams. Written by Caraballo and directed by Joe Ricci, this young girl’s journey from the town of Santurce, Puerto Rico to New York City is served up like a dish of plantains – some sweet, some savory, but all deliciously satisfying.
Caraballo’s accent is thick, but from the onset she makes it work for her in an amusing skit where she recreates a moment when she’s asked to audition for a Telemundo spot and it’s clear that the casting director can’t understand a word of what she’s saying. From that moment on it’s okay if a few words don’t quite make it through – the gist is explained powerfully in the many characters Caraballo takes on to bring her childhood alive for you. So many characters, in fact, that I lost count – but each and every one of them well carved and distinctly unique. Included in this troupe is all the members of her overflowing family (Mother, Father, Aunt, siblings and dogs), her classmates and teachers, and the many customers who frequent her family’s Hardware Store (or, as she so charmingly puts it . . .The Hardware).
Though we never leave Caraballo’s living room, she is so animated a storyteller that it becomes easy to envision the neighborhood she creates around her – like the Chicken and Candy Store (where you can watch your live chicken be killed, and plucked . . . and then buy some candy too!). A star turn by far is the Multiplication Rapping Contest she re-creates (No cursing or Lambada steps! her ancient teacher warns) where she literally stops the show cold with an amazing dance rap combo about – yes – the multiplication tables.
Interweaving moments of dance, song, comedy, and even sadness, Caraballo’s world beings to take form so clearly that by the end it’s worth giving a standing ovation.
With only a very short run that’s already half over, you’ll want to get to it as soon as you can. I promise, you’ll leave with a smile on your face, and a tear in your eye.
~~~Hardware Dreams Written by Sunilda Caraballo Directed by Joe Ricci Presented as part of the Borimix Festival . Remaining shows: Saturday, November 20th and Sunday, November 21st at 3pm & 8pm. . Theater for the New City 155 1st Avenue, between East 9th and East 10th Street . Tickets are $18 Click here to purchase or call 1-800-838-3006. Tickets may also be purchased at Theater for the New City box office two hours prior to show time.