Monday, April 30, 2018


 World Premiere:  ICE by Leon Martell

Tony Dúran and Jesús Castaños-Chima
Photo by Cooper Bates

Full disclosure.   I've been pals with playwright, Leon Martell for a long time.  I've also been a fan of The 24th Street Theatre that celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year. Debbie Devine and Jay McAdams not only keep the doors open at their beautifully restored garage near USC, just off Hoover in a highly eclectic neighborhood, they also provide education in-house as well as opening their doors to literally hundreds of school kids annually producing theatre with messages that send the kids back into their own worlds with food for thought. This, to me, is an important  goal that makes the art of theatre vital.  Tell a story. Send a message. Food for thought.

 As our fragile planet Earth continues to simmer with prejudice and the United States under highly questionable leadership making  provocative statements and rude gestures toward our neighbors to the south, now comes ICE, playwright Leon Martell's commission for The 24th Street Theatre.  Martell's story, may have subtly taken a cue from Steve Martin's 1991 movie "LA Story." Nacho's Taco Truck doesn't actually talk, but the messages are loud and clear. With Keith Mitchell's beautiful set featuring huge television sets that blurt out the news of 1988,  as well as presenting confrontations that Chepe (Jesús Castaños-Chima) has with sundry cheating labor contractors (all well played on video by Davitt Felder who also plays the blind Catholic priest) the story of Chepe's immigration unfolds.   Presented in both English and Spanish, with supertitled translations, Chepe is joined by his friend Nacho (Tony Dúran) also seeking the good life in Los Angeles.  The brilliant use of projections on Chepe's former ice cream truck, a 1971 GMC!.. along with el camion spouting the old melody that in its former life attracted kids in search of el helado, we learn the story of Mexican pals who have sneaked across the border in search of new and prosperous lives.  Resisting Chepe's intention to make gourmet tacos, the truck's willfull personality becomes an additional character that through the brief argument of the play has a few comments of its own with messages projected on the side of the GMC.
Bringing the issue of immigration to light and exposing the challenges of making a successful life in the USA is well delineated as Nacho and Chepe find their way around an occasional intrusion as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) comes cruising by.

Directed by Debbie Devine,  ICE and The 24th Street Theatre continue to not only present theatre that generously reflects their neighborhood, catering to the locals with outreach to the community  they succeed in their in search for harmony with educational projects and after this particular show an ice cream treat! 

The message is clear: finding our way in spite of being pulled in one direction we may find that heading down another route, eventually, we may find our true and welcome pathway.

ICE by Leon Martell
Directed by Debbie Devine
The 24th Street Theatre
1117 W. 24th ST
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(24th ST  at  Hoover)
Through June 10, 2018
Tickets and information: 
(213) 745-6516

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