a man and a woman in a living room

      Elizabeth Ramos and Anna LaMadrid (Photo – Makela Yepez)

      The author, Isaac Gómez, explores the political divide within one Mexican American family.

      By Carol Edger Germain

      Although the play takes place in El Paso and incorporates situations and references to the unique characteristics of families in border towns with Mexican sister cities (Ciudad Juárez in this case), the family dynamics of strong political differences, as well as varying degrees of family responsibilities related to aging and caretaking, cause division which will be relatable to all and specifically, painfully recognizable to many.

      Directed by Jess McLeod. The three actors (Anna LaMadrid and Elizabeth Ramos as sisters Rosalie and Belinda, respectively, and Kim Griffin as Erica, the radical influencer who connects with Belinda), were equally talented and powerful in their roles, resulting in a sustained emotional ride for the audience as the story unfolds. Rosalie, a nurse practitioner, remains with the aging mother in the family home, caring for her until her passing. Belinda leaves home to discover her options, insecure and struggling with her heritage. She holds a job in a retail warehouse, and meets and connects with Erica, possibly in ways other than political. Erica is a bit older, tough, and White, and her strength and influence draw Belinda to her and her radical cohorts, resulting in Belinda’s incarceration after a deadly bombing incident. Rosalie begrudgingly bails Belinda out of jail and allows the family home to be used for Belinda’s release on house arrest. She is furious and confused as to how Belinda could have gotten into this situation, her negativity exacerbated by the fact that Belinda hasn’t visited for a number of years, and Rosalie single-handedly dealt with their mother’s illness and passing. She immediately sets specific rules and limitations for the duration of what she hopes will be a brief stay, to the extent that it’s obvious that Rosalie wants to confirm her right to control the residence because it is still her home. Immediately the bickering and accusations fly over their vastly different life paths and political beliefs (the exact nature and goals of the radical group that recruited Belinda aren’t specific, but that detail isn’t necessary for the development of the story).

      Although there will not be a meeting of the minds as to politics and societal issues, the audience experiences the push and pull of the sisters’ demands and defenses, and because the point of the story was about the family dynamics more than the specifics of the political divide, I would assume that it was a simple mental exercise for audience members who have political divides in their families to connect with the sisters’ interaction (and I further assume that many of such differences have been discovered and/or exacerbated by the divisive and extreme politics in the US over the last 7 years). It certainly brought many of my family’s issues to my mind, causing me to mull over the sadness of deteriorated family relationships but also to feel a weird connectedness to the vast part of the population encountering similar issues, as well as also feeling a hopefulness that even the widest divisions could be moderated. The set was very detailed, causing the audience to feel “at home” during the entire play. The scenes in Belinda’s workplace were done by changing the lighting and moving the action forward. I was confused for a second, thinking they were still in the house, but as the characters interacted, the rhythm was clear and easy to follow each time it changed.

      A woman smoking a cigarette in a room

      Kim Griffin (Photo – Makela Yepez)

      Thursday 8:00 pm 12/7
      Fridays 8:00 pm 12/1, 12/8
      Saturdays 8:00 pm 12/2, 12/9
      Sundays 2:00 pm 12/3, 12/10
      Mondays 8:00 pm 12/4, 12/11
      IAMA Theatre Company
      at Atwater Village Theatre
      3269 Casitas Avenue
      Los Angeles 90039
      Free parking on the street or in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) lot one block south of the theater (do not park in the Momed lot)
      Tickets: (323) 380-8843 or iamatheatre.com

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