Monday, January 20, 2020

NOWHERE ON THE BORDER at the Road / Magnolia

Carlos Lacamara's strong polemic, "Nowhere on the Border," brings us face to face with the troubles that divide not only political factions in  the United States, but also depicts the exploitation of both Mexicans and Americans as we attempt to navigate the murky waters of our troubled times. Though first performed fifteen years ago, this story is a story for today.

Chet Grissom and Jonathan Nichols Photo Credit Brian M. Cole
In short concurrent scenes leaping from the present and then back in time and place,  the saga of Roberto (Jonathan Nichols) and Gary (Chet Grissom) coalesces with an earlier time where we discover a story of longing and hope. Roberto's young daughter, Pilar, (Natalie Llerena) is desperate to come to the United States to reunite with her husband, now three years absent. 

In present time Roberto has made it his business to search along the border for 'the missing' including his stubborn daughter. Overlooking a ravine close to the Mexican border, he stands a respectful vigil, waiting for the Border Patrol to arrive to collect a mutilated body he's discovered.

Opening night energies explode with the introduction of Montoya (Diana DeLaCruz) bursting profane onto the stage, high on adventure and cocaine.  The device of allowing one scene to freeze in place while scenes from aother times and places emerge, mostly works. Guitarist, Mackenzie Redvers Bryce, underscores the transitions.

Is this a 'good' play?    Are the actors 'good'?  Did director, Stuart J. Zully, do a good job? Certainly, the herculean effort that The Road Theatre puts into each of their productions I've seen in the past is undeniably 'good' when it comes to  sincerity. This play is timely and very important as we observe blatant prejudice and the exploitation of human beings by other human beings in our real world of today.  
Natalie Llerena and Jonathan Nichols Photo: Brian M. Cole

Virtually unsung bad guy, Don Rey (Thom Rivera), smoothly and without apology proceeds to bleed Pilar and others who yearn to cross the border.  The bitter undertaste of his assistance threatens harm.
Scenes in the past with Pilar and kindly Jesus (Leandro Cano) progressing as Montoya drives them across the punishing desert play concurrently with Roberto confronted by Gary, the unofficial/self appointed volunteer patrolman with two dimensional motivation until he and Roberto find common ground. The device is effective.  The humanity that the two men come to strikes an uncomfortable contrast as the travelers find their trek to the north fraught with danger. 

Paul Dufresne's scenic design with Nicholas Santiago's projections provide a perfect setting.

by Carlos Lacamara 
Directed by Stewart J. Zully 
Road Theatre 
10747 Magnolia
North Hollywood, CA 
Through Sunday, March 8, 2020

No comments:

Post a Comment