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THEATER BEAT

'Boy' Searches for Family Stability

December 27, 1996|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

Michael Spillers' loosely autobiographical comedy-drama, "White Boy," at Highways, boldly blurs the line between art and reality. Although the characters are completely fictionalized, the performers appear under their own names. The play, which wavers between past and present, opens with director Corky Dominguez dashing on stage to calm the "hysterical" Spillers, while youthful stagehand Victor (Victor Perez) bumbles about backstage.

Segue to story: Spillers plays an aspiring writer from Missouri who makes a painful passage through the "brown barrier" to find love with a Latino gang member, Lobo (Lobo Sebastian). At the gay Latino dance club where the "straight" Lobo works as a deejay, Michael befriends club dancers Wally and Rocco Elvis (talented hoofers Wally Berrios and Joe Elvis Alway), who provide advice--and comic relief.

The action is somewhat attenuated, as if the piece were developed through improv sessions without proper editing. However, the sexual encounters and nude sequences are discreet and truthful. Rocco may dance sans clothes, but the magnetic Alway keeps us focused on the message.

Although occasionally self-indulgent, "White Boy" is a moving story of the search for family stability and self-affirmation among society's "outcasts." But it's a long show, and the late appearance of a sleepy 6-year-old as Lobo's son seems completely unnecessary and distracting.

* "White Boy," Highways, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. Tonight and Saturday only, 8:30 p.m. $15. (213) 660-8587. Running time: 2 hours, 55 minutes. Plays Jan. 16-19 at the Celebration Playhouse, Palm Springs. Call (619) 416-9299 for information.

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