Encore Michigan

‘Swimming While Drowning’ illuminates the story of vulnerable LGBTQ teens

Review December 16, 2022 David Kiley

DETROIT, MI–Playwright Emilio Rodriguez has proved himself to be very adept at exposing and illuminating characters who represent people so frequently overlooked and marginalized by society. Swimming While Drowning, presented at The Matrix, does this in a poignant way, showing us what life is like for two 15 year old gay teen in a homeless shelter.

There are two more chances to see this play 12/16 and 12/17.

Angelo (Alexander Hernandez) arrives at the shelter, and has a roommate, Mila (Cameron Graham) who is tough, hardened and desperate not to show anyone weakness that could be exploited. His first impression of Angelo is that he is soft and must be put in his place–boundaries in their shared room established.

But Angelo is not having it. Totally incapable of exerting his presence physically, with his fists, instead he fights back to establish his place through kindness and sensitivity in a way that Mila is just not used to.

These two you men have nothing in the way of financial wherewithal, save the ready cash that Mila manages to earn hustling. Their families have rejected them. Society treats them as inconsequential. But they are resilient. And they are looking for answers and a safe place–possibly with one another.

Without giving away the plot or payoff, we’ll just say that what Rodriguez, who directed this production, has done here, and what he does so often, is allow us into the truth of a world few of us know.

Kids like Mila and Angelo are here, among us, and their stories and their lives deserve to be honored and understood. Swimming While Drowning does just that.

Week of 6/17/2024

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