Driving with the Parking Brake Up

Described as a comedy in two solo acts, Driving with the Parking Brake Up was in fact two plays, not one. While each play was linked through the main title, the two stories were thematically separate enough to beg the question: why were they produced as one show? The first act, or monologue, is a bildungsroman (possibly autobiographical) written and performed by Luis Sosa, in which we learn about his birth, absent father, two mothers, and growing up into a young gay actor who, like so many, works waiting tables.

Overall, this is an entertaining pair of pieces, although at a combined total of eighty minutes, each act was a little too long for either performer to sustain.

There is much humour, most of which is best described as camp, and Sosa relies entirely on gesture and mime to carry the narrative; the only prop is a chair. While he manages this well, the main problem is that, with so many characters to portray, including various genders and orientations, they come across as pretty much the same, with little vocal variation. Towards the end of the drama, we learn that our character has been reunited with his father, at which point the promised multimedia kicks in and we see a short film of Sosa and presumably members of his family. But it is still unclear whether this is autobiography; less clear is why the title, Mangoes and Rice, finally appears at the end of this film, which completes the first ‘act.’

With little time to make sense of this, we move into the second solo act, written and performed by Casey Dressler. This time a straight-forward title is descriptive: The Wedding Warrior. Here, the humour is more slapstick than camp, as we are taken through the trials of a 30-something wedding planner who is adamant that she hates weddings. She does, of course, secretly yearn for that superstitious benediction of being thrown the wedding bouquet and when that point comes in the ceremony she puts aside all professional propriety and goes for it.

Anyone familiar with a similar scene in The Vicar of Dibley will be unable to watch this without Dawn French coming to mind, but there the comparison ends. Dressler manages to portray her array of characters with more variation, and this section, or act, doesn’t end with a video, although her biography suggests that this too is largely taken from personal experience. Overall, this is an entertaining pair of pieces, although at a combined total of eighty minutes, each act was a little too long for either performer to sustain.

Reviews by J. A. Sutherland

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The Blurb

Foot's on the gas but you've barely made it down the block? This show explores the lives of two people who find themselves in the space between reality and making their dreams come true. Driving with the Parking Brake Up is a comedy in two acts: In Mangos and Rice, a late-blooming, early-greying, wannabe-Cuban, gay boy from Miami discovers he doesn't suck as much as he thought. In The Wedding Warrior, an unwed, 30-something, wedding coordinator in small town Key Largo proves love truly is a battlefield. Buckle up for this hilariously heart-warming adventure!