Photo courtesy of Charr Crail
There is nothing I love more than the theme of friendship, especially when it gets deep into the ideas of male friendships and bonds. It is something that is often underappreciated and underrepresented. Portrayals can often be toxic or a shallow depiction of friendship, so I was delighted to see that The Hombres handled the topic with so much loving care.
The Hombres follows Julián, a gay Latino yoga instructor in New Jersey. He originally studied dance, but was often told that he didn’t fit the bill of what they were looking for. Due to machismo culture (exaggerated sense of manliness), Julián had a hard time making bonds with other men in his life. In the beginning of the play, we learn that he even at a young age knew to approach men with caution.
Soon we meet Héctor. Héctor is one of the heads of the construction crew that is working outside of the yoga studio Julián works at. He works with Pedro and Beto; all three embody the stereotypical “strong man” idea. Héctor is seen looking into the yoga studio a few times, so the boss asks Julián to talk to him. During the discussion, Héctor asks Julián if he helps him clean at night in exchange for yoga classes, and that is where the journey begins.
As the play progresses, we see a strong bond develop between Héctor and Julián. Julián helps Héctor realize his anger can be redirected and that he can calm himself down to become a better person for himself and his family. Hector encourages Julián to chase his dreams again and get back into dance. He even asks to be invited to any performances he does. Despite their differences, you see their relationship blossom throughout the performance, and it’s beautiful to see.
The play also does a marvelous job of looking at identity. Despite trying to better himself, Hector does not want Pedro and Beto to find out he is going to yoga. It is not something “macho men” would do, and he doesn’t want their ideas of him to change. There is also a bit of commentary on being Latino in America. When Julián is worried about Héctor staying too late without him, he clarifies that he is seen as an “invisible person” or that no one would notice a Latino man cleaning. The commentary throughout is very thought provoking and can lead to some great discussions about identity.
The Hombres is a heartwarming and heartbreaking performance. It challenged the ideas of machismo, while providing laughs and even a few teary eyes. Catch the play now through June 4th at Capital Stage. Learn more here.