Three short works from a prizewinning playwright

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La Puta Vida Trilogy Three plays by Reinaldo Povod. Directed by Bill Hart. Public Theater regulars may well feel relieved that Reinaldo Povod has got ``La Puta Vida Trilogy'' off his chest and out of his system. With ``This Bitch of a Life'' as the overall English title, the three new playlets at LuEsther Hall present existence among New York Hispanics at its most dire, depressing, and depraved. The trilogy is also a retreat artistically from Mr. Povod's 1986 prizewinning ``Cuba and His Teddy Bear.''

``South of Tomorrow,'' the opening one-acter, revisits 1978 for a weird tale about a suicidal naif (John Leguizamo) who trails a one-eyed black Vietnam veteran (Michael Guess) to a drug ``shooting gallery.'' There the young innocent promises that, after he has killed himself, one of his eyes will go to the veteran (through an organ donor program). The sometimes violent confrontation between the intruder and the hostile addict ends on a tentative upbeat note - the evening's only concession to hope.

``Nijinsky and His Chicken'' observes an encounter between a solitary teen-ager (Miguel Correa) and a ``street fighting'' male (John Turturro) who turns out to be a child molester. That its simulated sex involves a child actor is merely the most distressing aspect of this repulsive episode. ``Poppa D'io!'' turns out to be a luridly sensational tragedy with incestuous implications about a bargirl-stripper turned prostitute (Rosana DeSoto) and the adult son (Mr. Turturro again) who has from childhood witnessed her degrading performances.

Recommended: Default

A self-serving prologue and epilogue provide the framework for the playlets. Otherwise, ``La Puta Vida Trilogy'' speaks for itself. As usual with Mr. Povod, the dialogue and characterizations are sharp, colorful, and sometimes funny. The plays are spontaneously acted under Bill Hart's direction. The production was designed by Donald Eastman (scenery), Gabriel Berry (costumes), and Anne Militello (lighting).

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