ASR Theater ~~ Stark Reality: “Bees & Honey” at Marin Theatre Company

By Barry Willis

Obsessive sexual attraction proves inadequate to sustain a marriage in Guadalis Del Carmen’s Bees & Honey, at Marin Theatre Company through March 10.

Strongly directed by Karina Gutierrez, Del Carmen’s two-actor, no-intermission script covers a wide territory: mating behaviors, racial and cultural identities, class distinctions, family and professional obligations, the nature and seriousness of commitments, and many other issues.

… It’s laudable that any playwright would attempt all of this in a single play …

Del Carmen does so adroitly and mostly succeeds, provoking questions without providing answers. Her somewhat disjointed story involves two ethnic Dominicans from the Washington Heights district in Manhattan: Manuel (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.), owner of an auto repair shop, and Johaira (Katherine George), a recent Columbia law school graduate on track to become an assistant district attorney.

Katherine George as Johaira and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. in “Bees & Honey” at Marin Theatre Company now through March 10, 2024. Photo credit: Kevin Berne

The two meet in a neighborhood bar and are immediately drawn to each other, propelled partly by their shared love of Caribbean and Latin American music (Michael Kelly, sound designer). They flirt, dance, and make love to exhaustion and soon are co-habiting in a nice apartment (Carlos Antonio Aceves, set designer), but trouble looms as their differences emerge. Johaira is college-educated and worldly, while Manuel is working class and suffering from a bit of arrested development, as many men do—his favorite hobby is playing video games, which he tackles with the enthusiasm and demeanor of an adolescent boy.

But Manuel’s no mere immature wrench jockey—he’s planning to expand his business by opening a new location, and ultimately hopes to have one in each of New York City’s five boroughs. Johaira admires his ambition and offers encouragement while pursuing her legal career, including a gut-wrenching case that consumes her. She admonishes Manuel about his misogynistic tendencies, giving him feminist books to read, which he dutifully does and learns from—a palpable character arc. Johaira’s arc is less pronounced until she suffers a miscarriage and concludes that she needs far more from life than she will ever find with Manuel.

There are also secondary plots about how to care for Manuel’s mother, suffering the early stages of dementia, hopeful plans about caring for a baby that never arrives, and issues about personal identity. In one assertive outburst, Manuel shouts “I’m not black! I’m not white! I’m Dominican!” to which Johaira responds that maybe he should dial back his indiscriminate use of the “N” word.

Katherine George and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. at work on the MTC stage. Photo credit: Kevin Berne

Lendeborg and George are both passionate and convincing in this demanding performance. Their characters’ irresistible attraction and ultimately dividing differences are all made abundantly clear. While the time-line isn’t as obvious, we guess that it covers probably two intense years in the lives of a vibrant couple—wisely or not, Del Carmen deletes all time-wasting connective tissue from the script. The two get married, but we never know about it until the end, when Johaira says “I’ll draw up the papers.”

Repeated distractions about Manuel’s mother and his brother Mario never reach resolution the way Johaira’s failed court case does. Not that we care. Both celebration and tragedy, Bees & Honey is a beautifully flawed long-exposure portrait of the intersecting lives of two very likeable young lovers.



Aisle Seat Review NorCal Executive Editor Barry Willis is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and president of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. Contact:


ProductionBees & Honey
Written ByGuadalis Del Carmen
Directed byKarina Gutierrez
Producing CompanyMarin Theatre Company (MTC)
Production DatesThru Mar 10th, 2024
Production AddressMarin Theatre Company
397 Miller Avenue
Mill Valley, CA
Telephone(415) 388-5200
Reviewer ScoreMax in each category is 5/5
Aisle Seat Review PICK?YES!